After several postponements, the leftist main opposition party, SYRIZA, is taking its first steps toward absorbing its many factions and forging a single policy with which it could propose to govern. Until now, the party had served as a reservoir for every shade of anger at the crisis and the often unfortunate efforts to manage it. Now we will see whether the party that in 2009 garnered just 4 percent of the vote will be able to behave in accordance with the 27 percent it got last year, making it a protagonist of our political developments.
The speech by SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras, opening the Founding Congress, set out the general directions and proposals of the party without offering any specifics. We expect more by the end of the congress on Sunday. However, yesterday Tsipras ignored the country’s real challenges and aimed to create a picture in which SYRIZA, simply by force of will, can shape the world as it desires. “Believe me, the mandate that we get will be respected, whether they like it or not. It will be respected also by Mrs Merkel and Mr Schaeuble,” he declared, refering to the German chancellor and her finance minister.
SYRIZA “will put an end to the memoranda and to the threat to democracy,” Tsipras said. He set out the problems faced by the country as a choice between the bailout deals with creditors on one hand and democracy, social justice and national independence on the other. This culminated in “Memoranda or SYRIZA!” He repeated the claim that “scrapping the memoranda and renegotiating the loan deal is the basis on which we will establish the roadmap for an exit from the crisis.” Tsipras moved on to an even more dangerous oversimplification, saying that the country’s political scene comprised three poles: “one pole is New Democracy, which is turning more and more toward the extreme right, the other pole is the fascist threat and the third pole is SYRIZA and the broader political and social left.”
As with the memoranda, where he avoided any mention of necessary or desired reforms, as well as what the consequences would have been had Greece not signed these loan agreements, Tsipras set out a warped image of reality in order to present his party as the only solution. Who can disagree with democracy, justice, independence and, by extension, SYRIZA? In our politics, however, there are really two main poles – one is that of civilization (despite all the sins of our “systemic” parties) and the other of barbarism.
SYRIZA, along with New Democracy and our other parties, as well as state institutions, must join forces against the forces of violence and criminality. They must also cooperate to achieve a functional economy and social justice – for which the memoranda have several proposals. When they change themselves, our politicians will be able to dream about changing the world. Until then, it will be useful to see how Mr Tsipras handles his own fractious party.