July 29, 2015
The Central Committee of the ruling party Syriza convenes tomorrow, Thursday, to debate upon the bailout talks. The Political Secretariat decided yesterday, after discussions with PM Tsipras, that its is indispensable for the party to abide by internal rules and give the voice to its members and elected representatives to accept or reject the bailout deal as we know it today. Things are getting even tougher.
The current political balances inside Syriza party favor the Left Platform and its leader Panayiotis Lafazanis, former Minister of Energy and Production, forced to resign during cabinet reshuffle, after having voted against prior actions a couple of weeks ago. In this respect, last Monday, the blog of the Platform, Iskra, celebrated 5 years of operation with a big gathering in downtown Athens, and the participation of leading figures that reject a new bailout, such as the historic figure of the Left and former MEPs Manolis Glezos, MPs Lapavitsas, Stratoulis and Isychos, as well as the former head of Syriza economic policy pepartment Professor Yiannis Milios. All clearly stated that the Greek government should change course and start preparing the plan for returning to national currency and abandon Eurozone.
Topic No. 1: Yes or No to bailout deal?
Syriza members and MPs are heavily confused over the new bailout. While MPs that voted against prior actions during last couple of weeks and reject any prospective deal similar to the previous ones have missed the chance to build a solid camp, big segments of the Greek society and the business world are criticizing the decisions of the government in much bigger and louder way. In other words, what we have observed is that the “political” Syriza is not adjusted with the “social” Syriza, and further, above strict ideological lines, with what Greeks believe regarding the measures and the difficulties of implementing such a bailout deal.
In addition to that, the vast majority of Syriza MPs that voted in favor of prior actions do not believe that this bailout will improve economic and social conditions in Greece. Nonetheless, they all accept that they voted in favor only because they had “no other option”. Here lies the most complicated dilemma that not only Syriza, but the entire political system is obliged to deal with: Can we or we cannot choose other alternatives that will not include such harsh and anti-social measures in order for the country to stand on the ground without facing a freefall?
The answers come from reports of the Central Bank of Greece, various think-tanks in Europe and the United States, and certainly from a part of leftist economists and members of Syriza. The essence of these preliminary studies are expected to be partly discussed tomorrow.
Topic No. 2: Is Tsipras leadership under question?
For the moment, no. And that reflects the majority of Syriza MPs and members. But this “no” is also dependent to what the Prime Minister and his government are planning to do in the coming negotiations, what stance they will keep and finally, whether the alternative proposal to be discussed will prove feasible, credible and gather wide support. PM Tsipras is very popular in Syriza, but this is more attributed with what he had achieved when seated in front opposition and definitely with what his policy and negotiation plan was until July 5th and the referendum. After that day and the 360 change of course of the Greek government in bailout negotiations, his popularity started to decrease – and certain to decrease more in the months to come should the government signs the deal and starts implementing every single measure agreed.
Nonetheless, if discussions prove fruitless tomorrow or if decision is to be reached after an extraordinary Congress to be held in September, we should take for granted that Tsipras leadership will be put into question. Similarly, his leadership and power in the party will be also determined by the outcome of the negotiations and certainly after the developments in the coming Eurogroup Summits.
Topic No. 3: Should I stay or should I go now?
The members of the Left Platform are categorically against the partition of the party. They have no plans – for the moment- to leave Syriza or create a new political movement. They know and feel they are the ones that have built Syriza all these years since late 1980s (i.e. after split with Communist Party), and they want to abide by the program of Syriza as announced last September 2014 in Thessaloniki, and the outcome of the referendum held early this month. And therefore, they ask PM Tsipras to respect both lines -the political program of the party and the decision of the majority of the Greek people in the last referendum.
What is interesting enough is the fact that those MPs and members rejecting this bailout deal do not consist of a solid and homogeneous camp, but rather a group of people with different backgrounds. This might be tricky for the cohesion of the camp, but also literally helpful for Syriza altogether should the next days and weeks efforts are put to re-address all prior actions that have been voted so far and re-assess the general negotiation plan towards the final bailout talks.
To contact the author Dimitris Rapidis:
Twitter: @rapidisAuthor : Dimitris Rapidis