SYRIZA retreats as Greek crisis deepens

The right of the Greek party SYRIZA won a victory over its left bloc at its founding conference in mid-July in Athens. The conference brought together 3500 delegates from around Greece.

SYRIZA captured the attention of the international left after it won 26 per cent in the Greek elections in the elections last June, taking 72 seats in parliament. Their rise followed the spectacular collapse of the Greek Labor-type party, PASOK, who lost their support in the midst of rising strikes and protests against their implementation of vicious austerity measures.

SYRIZA captured the vote of the rising left mood by opposing the repayment of the debt and standing against austerity measures.

The “troika”, made up by EU leaders, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, has negotiated the bailout terms and austerity measures with Greek leaders, so Greece can remain in the Euro.

But the dominant right inside SYRIZA, led by Alexis Tspiras, has refused to contenance breaking with the European Union (EU), and by extension, the negotiations over the Greek debt. Tspiras and the dominant right faction inside SYRIZA have set their sights on winning control over the Greek parliament and attempting to moderate Greek capitalism.

Recently, SYRIZA has also signalled they are willing to take government by forming a coalition with a nationalist breakaway from the rightwing party New Democracy, the Independent Greeks.

As part of this, Tspiras, in the world’s of journalist Nick Malkoutzis “has been on a mission to mould SYRIZA into a party of government rather than collection of leftist factions.”

At the conference, Tspiras was successful in his push against the independent left and socialist groupings inside SYRIZA. They have been given a short period of time before they must dissolve entirely. This is designed to mute criticism of the party’s trajectory.

At the conference, proposals from the Left Platform of maintaining support for leaving the Eurozone, imposing public control on banks and nationalising strategic sectors of the economy were all rejected by around 70 per cent of the conference delegates.

SYRIZA also changed their policy of cancelling the debt entirely to a policy of cancelling some of the debt and negotiating the rest, moving away from the policies that inspired their massive rise in support.

The austerity measures are not saving the Greek economy from capitalism’s crisis—they are making it worse. Now is not the time for SYRIZA to capitulate to a renegotiated version of austerity, but the time to use their influence to build the struggle against it from below. Sadly in May, SYRIZA moved to head off high school teachers’ strike in response to sackings.

Just after the SYRIZA conference, the Greek government passed a plan for another 25,000 public sector job cuts. But the Greek working class is still on the move. A massive three day strike by local government workers, and a general strike in their support, was a test for the government.

Two months ago, the government tried to close down the Greek national broadcaster, but Greek media workers occupied the station and continue to run it under workers’ control. This action already forced one partner out of the coalition government in June. It’s by building on this kind of workers’ action that a real challenge to the power of the trioka and the Greek elite will come.

By Amy Thomas


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