With his gaze fixed on next month’s European Parliament elections, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras is reportedly determined to proceed with his ambitious goal of forming a center-left front, despite vehement reactions from party purists within ruling SYRIZA.
This effort to bring the country’s progressive forces together, ostensibly to tackle the rising tide of neoliberalism and the far-right across Europe in general, is expected to be given credence in Saturday’s declaration at the first meeting of the so-called Electoral Committee comprising 274 members – 159 from leftist SYRIZA and the remaining 115 from the “wider” center-left.
According to sources, the declaration will not include references to SYRIZA. Rather it will focus on the creation of a “Progressive Alliance” as Tsipras is intent on showcasing SYRIZA’s new image as a party that represents something more than the radical leftist philosophy it once espoused before it rose to power in 2015 – to the outrage of purist factions within the party.
The declaration is also expected to denounce Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban and Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz as representatives of the rapid rise of right-wing populism and nationalism across Europe that must be countered.
Instead, the socialist governments of France and Portugal will be held up as models to emulate.
Meanwhile, keen to bridge the gap with opposition New Democracy in opinion polls and to brandish its patriotic credentials – which were put in question after the Prespes agreement signed between Greece and North Macedonia earlier in the year – the government is expected to revisit the issue of German war reparations, which will be discussed in Parliament this coming Wednesday.
The issue of German war reparations featured prominently as a SYRIZA talking point when it was in the opposition and, given the issue’s resonance among the electorate, the government hopes it will yield dividends at the ballot box.
However, even though Greece has never legally forfeited its claim to war reparations, the timing of the issue’s re-emergence – on the eve of elections – is seen clearly as a political gambit.
According to sources, the government’s first act will be to seek negotiations with Germany by issuing a note verbale.