The Group of 53, a faction of purists within the ruling left-wing SYRIZA party, on Monday issued a scathing assessment of the government coalition with right-wing nationalist Independent Greeks (ANEL).
“Political alliances cannot cross the left-right divide,” the group, which is led by Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos, said in an announcement marking nearly three years since SYRIZA was elected to power and teamed up with ANEL to form a parliamentary majority.
“In several cases, the two-party coalition is hostage to a party that… exerts pressure to block a slew of radical/positive measures,” the Group of 53 charged, suggesting that ANEL has been responsible for preventing legislation promoted by its bigger leftist partner.
However, the announcement added, “in certain cases this painful alliance with ANEL does not constitute an alibi for concessions that damage SYRIZA’s ideological profile.”
The announcement was particularly scathing in regards to a controversial deal between the Defense Ministry, which is headed by ANEL chief Panos Kammenos, and Saudi Arabia for Greek missiles.
“It is inconceivable for a government to speak in the name of peace and at the same time be involved, even in an indirect manner, in an armed conflict like that in Yemen,” the Group of 53 said, echoing concerns that the Greek missiles could be used in Saudi Arabia’s campaign against its southern neighbor.
It also accused the government’s leadership of bowing to pressure from ANEL over SYRIZA’s plans to scrap religion classes at Greece’s state schools.
“You can’t defend the separation of church and state and allow the church hierarchy to interfere unhindered in politics,” it said.
In the announcement, the Group of 53 called on the government to realign itself with its leftist roots, adding that SYRIZA also needs to be cautious about the message it is sending to society regarding the recovery of the Greek economy.
“It would be a mistake to create for public relations purposes the impression of normalcy, which is a far cry from harsh reality,” the Group of 53 said.