Party purists collide with government over sitins
The growing divide between the government and sections of ruling SYRIZA was highlighted again on Thursday after the Group of 53 faction accused it of embracing a “law and order“ mentality.
The comment came in the wake of Wednesday’s forcible evacuation of anti-establishment protesters – chiefly foreigners who participated in the city’s pro-refugee No Border Camp – from three occupied buildings in Thessaloniki.
And with the leftist-led coalition coming under increasing criticism from SYRIZA purists for supposedly veering away from the party’s fundamentals, Thursday’s criticism by the Group of 53 – self-appointed guardian of SYRIZA ideology – is seen as another blow to the ruling party’s cohesion, which it has struggled to maintain since the government went back on its pre-election pledge to reverse austerity and signed another bailout with Greece’s creditors.
Citizens’ Protection Minister Nikos Toskas had defended the police operation saying that “no one can do whatever he wants,” drawing a sharp-worded response from the party, which accused the minister of “criminalizing” acts of solidarity – referring to the motives of the protesters who occupied a university campus pledging allegiance to the migrants stranded in the country.
The Group of 53 upped the ante Thursday, denouncing the ministry’s strong-arm “dogma” as a regression to the time when New Democracy was in office and urged the government to refrain from taking legal action against the arrested protesters.
“We are determined to do whatever it takes for the victory of solidarity, tolerance and democracy,” it said, and warned the government that it will face off with anyone who justifies Wednesday’s operation, boding further intra-party tension.