SYRIZA’s Responsibilities

Published on ZNet (first on, by Yiannis Bournous, March 9, 2015.

The SYRIZA-led government’s February 24 agreement with the Eurogroup [of European Union finance ministers] is not the end of negotiations. It doesn’t even postpone conflict. On the contrary, it opens up a long new period full of sharp clashes inside and outside our country.  

These clashes have never occurred before, because the previous pro-austerity governments not only simply agreed about everything with the Troika [European Union, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund] and the leadership of the European Union (EU), but also in many cases outdid them in the severity of the austerity measures they worked out and put in place.

The basic aim of the European neoliberal elite and its political representatives was—and still is—to lock SYRIZA into a framework that stops it from constituting a real alternative to neoliberal hegemony. They tried—and will continue to try—to imprison the Greek government and SYRIZA in a clearly defensive position, where we would be forced into mere damage control, without any ability to undertake our own alternative initiatives.

The whole framework of negotiations was worked out by our opponents with the aim of leading the government into either collapse or ridicule. Nonetheless, the stance of the Greek government ruined their plans and unmasked the false blackmail put into circulation by Greek and foreign circles with the goal, in the case of disagreement from the Greek side, of forcing our country into economic collapse and forced exit from the Eurozone … //

… In assuming its historical responsibility, the Greek government must immediately work very hard in order to avoid any possibility of new austerity measures and, at the same time, to improve public finances by making the rich pay. A first positive sign in this direction is that the treasury prosecutors investigating lists of Greek account-holders who have illegally transferred money to Swiss and other foreign banks have already blocked €404 million found in the bank accounts of 17 depositors.

At the same time, we will be judged on our moves to democratise the political system and the public sphere, in the war against corruption and in tackling the humanitarian crisis. The government has already presented its first bill, which includes free electricity for households that live in conditions of extreme poverty (300 Kwh per month), housing rent allowance for 30,000 households (€70 per person or €220 per family per month), as well as a nutrition allowance for citizens that also live in conditions of extreme poverty.

In these four months, we should make decisive steps to improve our position vis-a-vis tomorrow’s confrontations; these steps can be made so long as a large part of the society is determined to support the government of social salvation and not simply wait. The existence of this unprecedented popular goodwill, as expressed in the first post-election opinion polls but principally in the unprecedented mobilisations in support of the demands of the government, is of fundamental importance to our party.

Today, when the dogma that “everyone is the same” is collapsing and politics is returning as the way to change our lives, our party should maximise its internal unity, without this meaning the suppression of diversity but its inclusion in our collective reflection and common goal. Criticism and debate among viewpoints in the decision-making processes of the bodies of a multi-tendency left party are fair and just, so long as they don’t jeopardise our internal solidarity or distort our official decisions.

SYRIZA must now open its doors to embrace all the people who wish to fight collectively and unselfishly so as to win back dignity. Our planning, our procedures and actions should mirror our determination to create the “collective intellectual” who will build a new collective consciousness in the Greek society. A new idea of common sense, based on collectivity, solidarity, and the fulfillment of social needs.

As the president of SYRIZA recently said, at this new beginning our shared slogan must be: less words, more work.

(full text).

(Yiannis Bournous is a member of the SYRIZA Political Secretariat and of the executive board of the Party of the European Left).


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