COMMENT

The ‘Europeanization’ of SYRIZA

By Costas Iordanidis

The recent vote by the central committee of opposition SYRIZA, which saw 75 percent in favor of Greece remaining in the eurozone, has clarified a crucial issue that was used mainly by New Democracy and PASOK to rally voters to their side in the back-to-back general elections held in the early summer.

What they failed to take into account was the fact the the Communist Party (KKE) was the only one during the two electoral campaigns to explicitly express its opposition to Greece remaining in the common currency area. The reason was that, given how vehemently New Democracy, and in particular its leader Antonis Samaras, opposed the first memorandum under the government of George Papandreou, the party had to attribute its complete change of position to a more serious issue by the time elections rolled around in May and June. That was how the dilemma arose between Greece’s remaining in the eurozone or its ouster in the runup to the general elections.

Over the past six months a battle has been raging between those who ostensibly represent the vast majority of the Greek middle class and those who wants to see the country return to chaos and the drachma. The battle was mostly fought on ideological grounds, though this is no longer the case today.

There are many who are relieved by the clarification made by SYRIZA regarding its stance on the eurozone issue because they believe that this ensures Greece’s position in the bloc. But Alexis Tsipras’s party continues to be of a nonconformist and subversive inclination even though opposition within the party remains strong.

The euro, a symbol of the Greek elite, will be usurped by Tsipras as a weapon for the people in an ideological battle that will manifest itself as a conflict between the classes, with the target being the ruling elite and the economic establishment. At the end of the day, the politicians who make up SYRIZA’s leadership were shaped by Marxist and Leninist principles and the economic establishment has always been one of their standard targets. Paradoxically, SYRIZA will find allies to support its new position in the troika and the European Union, not because they are governed by similar principles, but because Greece’s modernization requires sweeping change.

Of course, Tsipras is no pioneer. French President Francois Hollande has also waged war against the elite by taxing annual revenues of over 1 million euros at a rate of 75 percent. This unfortunate decision simply compelled rich French people to move to Belgium.

The “Europeanization” of SYRIZA further complicates the Greek political scene, which was already in disarray, and stopping Tsipras’s ascent to power will not be achieved with politicking. But neither New Democracy or PASOK appear to have a new strategy.

Online