Contradictions and questions


If there is one conclusion to be drawn from the recent SYRIZA congress, it is that the procedure confirmed Alexis Tsipras’s absolute control of the leftist party (no surprises there), while at the same time evidencing the delegates’ unanimous will to perpetuate their hold on power – at any cost.

This craving for power is apparent – on a nearly daily basis – in the government’s policy decisions, as well as in areas whose independence is – at least in theory – safeguarded by the Constitution.

Meanwhile, the congress exposed inconsistencies and contradictions that mainly concern the balance of power inside SYRIZA. However, they would also have an effect on society if Tsipras were to reshuffle his government. In that case, it would be worth analyzing the individual performances and the number of votes garnered by SYRIZA’s senior cadres during the weekend ballot.

Looking at the congress in ideological terms, it’s not really easy to explain what happened. For what does it mean that Euclid Tsakalotos, the finance minister overseeing the enforcement of the “neoliberal policies” stipulated in the country’s third bailout agreement, won the biggest number of votes? And if one could attribute Education Minister Nikos Filis’s strong showing to his ongoing clash with the Church (traditionally a leftist soft spot), how could one account for the good performance of Panos Skourletis, who as energy minister has not always toed the party line?

Also, how should one interpret the poor performance of State Minister Alekos Flambouraris, or that of Culture Minister Aristides Baltas, compared to the good performance of Parliament Speaker Nikos Voutsis, who, a day earlier in Parliament, advised State Minister Nikos Pappas to withdraw an amendment regarding licenses for television channels?

Furthermore, could the gesture by coalition partner Panos Kammenos, who greeted SYRIZA delegates as “comrades,” suggest a possible merger between the two parties (vindicating Tsipras’s call for an overture to other social groups)?

As for the prime minister’s remarks regarding the second review of the third bailout and debt relief, we will have to wait and see whether they will overcome opposition from powerful European countries.

Overall, the SYRIZA congress raised more questions than answers. It’s highly unlikely that Tsipras has the answers, and it looks very unlikely that he can explain away the contradictions.

In all probability, he will just continue kicking the can down the road.