This Is the End of the Line for Syriza


By Dimitris Dalakoglou, VU University Amsterdam*

Greek banks have reopened after weeks of closure. The patient and orderly way customers queued outside to use ATMS during the big shut down was an impressive sight, especially for those people who are fond of considering Greek people as somehow incapable of doing things right.

But nothing is harmonious. The queues outside the job centres are as long as ever, while many of the shops that shut down at the same time as the banks, still haven’t reopened. Anti-austerity and anti-governmental protests have started to take place for the first time since Syriza came to power. Dozens were arrested as the Greek parliament voted to accept a new bailout deal from Europe, based on the very terms that were rejected just days earlier in a national referendum. Fresh riots took place as the parliament passed a law that allows the confiscation of people’s homes.

As Syriza burns its bridges with the general public, life for the majority of people has returned to hopeless normality – indeed, many people have spent more time talking about the wildfires that have broken out around the country than the troika in the past few days.

Greece’s ruling party might be called the coalition of the radical left but it seems to be rejecting a basic argument put forward by activists at that end of the political spectrum for years: It is impossible to transform this unequal, structurally and physically violent world into a better place if you try to do it via the institutional route. State governance, the parliamentary system, prime ministerial meetings and the rest are all the enemies of meaningful change.

Perhaps to a certain extent Syriza’s leaders were aware of the risks they were taking when they sought to continue negotiating with Europe. They could end up crossing the political spectrum to join the rest of the austerity governments or, less likely, be overthrown for failing to comply with the requests of creditors and international bankers.

Players in the neoliberal system have never been afraid of drawing blood – and Greek history has quite a few examples. The left has often been brutalised in order to protect capitalist forms of governance. This is what happened during the military coup of 1967. And although such extremes are unlikely these days, the bailout debacle has introduced Syriza’s leadership to real politics.

Just after prime minister Alexis Tsipras agreed to the terms presented to him by Greece’s international creditors, the IMF, itself part of the deal, spoke out against what was on offer. Greece, it argued, would never be able to pay its debts under the terms being put forward. Very soon followed the German minister of finance who made it publicly known that he does not think the programme proposed by his own government will work.

And yet this was the route taken by EU leaders. Syriza argues that the Greek government chose these new catastrophic terms and conditions instead of a much more catastrophic option. This is precisely how high-level politics works behind closed doors. There is blackmail and there are threats. One can only wonder why Syriza would have expected anything else.

Many believe Tsipras was forced into agreeing to the terms but Syriza is not innocent in this situation. It continues to glorify the eurozone and still prioritises paying back a supposedly national debt that ends up bailing out the Greek and European banking sector.

Moreover, Syriza’s belief in national unity also reflects the mistakes long made by the Greek left. The Greek population includes both massively impoverished social classes and a corrupted few who get richer every day. The latter group has no interest in an even slightly fairer system than extreme austerity for the poor and state generosity for the rich.

At least amid all the confusion there is clarity in one respect. Voters are seeing that Syriza’s parliamentary victory does not mean the end of austerity and poverty. Even Syriza’s own youth group publicly denounced the new loan agreement.

The deep division between the government and people is opening again. Since Syriza’s election in January 2015, significant parts of the grassroots movement that opposed austerity – from solidarity and protest groups to immigrant support initiatives and unions – had remained somewhat inactive. They had slipped into a lethargic state, expecting a smoother state of affairs with Syriza at the helm of the austerity-ridden country. But the scales have fallen and those who were sympathetic to this new government are losing again faith in politics from above.

*Dimitris Dalakoglou is a Professor of Social Anthropology at VU University Amsterdam. This article first appeared on The Conversation.


  1. So sad. Syriza capitulated to blackmail. They should have parted ways with the EZ, and let the EZ and world feel the ramifications…the suffering would be felt most in Greece but it would gain its dignity and sovereignty back. Capitalism has run amok. The banking minotaur (LOL) is too large and powerful. So many had hope that the brave Tsipras would fight the beast and win a chip off of it.

  2. What a transparently phony group of con artists this gang of Marxist multimillionaires are! Tspiras, Varoufakis, Tsakalotos, etc, with their foreign bank accounts & overseas mansions will never suffer, they can always fly abroad when the going gets tough, i.e. when the nation finally collapses and they start fearing a fate similar to that which befell their communist comrade Romanian President Nicolae Ceaușescu on Christmas day in 1989.

    Meanwhile the Greek people forage for food in trash cans in ever increasing numbers, suffer 27% unemployment, and continued debt slavery to the Troika loansharks enforced by the Radical Leftist SYRIZA led government of Alexis Tsipras. At the same time illegal 3rd world immigrants, mainly muslim Syrians, Iraqis, Afghans, Somalis, Pakistanis pour into Greece at the rate of 1,500 per day and SYRIZA passes legislation granting Greek citizenship to the children of illegal immigrants, enforcing the muslim 3rd world colonisation of Greece.
    Meanwhile, SYRIZA Deputy Immigration Minister Tasia Christodoulopoulou calls the illegal 3rd world immigrants sleeping rough on the streets of Greek cities and on Greek islands, a “tourist attraction.”

    New Democracy and SYRIZA are one and the same. In 2013 Antonis Samaras announced plans to grant illegal immigrants and their children the right to vote in Greek elections!!! 
    To WATCH Samaras making this announcement search You Tube for: “Ο Σαμαράς δίνει ψήφο στους λαθρομετανάστες”

    ONLY Golden Dawn has as its central platform safeguarding the biological existence of the Hellenic people by banning 3rd world immigration, deporting all illegals, and upholding Orthodox Christian family values. GD rejects signing any memorandum with the Troika loansharks!

  3. Greedy delusional politicians filling people up with false hope of promises that they are unable to fulfill. What was the purpose? Where they incompetent, naive fools or were they only looking to create jobs for themselves at the expense of the people? Now people are angry. What do you expect.

  4. Dimitris Dalakoglou omitted one important part in his opinion piece. Given the growing disenfranchisement of the electorate towards SYRIZA, what party if any will they coalesce around. ND and PASOK are the whipping posts for decades of corruption and abuse that brought us to the brink. To Potami are media hounds barking and nipping from the political sidelines and not much else. Xrisi Avgi may start to grow again as former ND supporters seek a party with stronger policies. While the former “Radical” Left of SYRIZA will likely splinter off to establish their own political identity.

  5. Governments socialize debts and privatize profits everywhere. The banks must be fed. Why does anyone expect this to be different in Greece than it is in America?

  6. SYRIZA, New Democracy, ANEL, PASOK, or To Potami all voted in support of signing a 3rd memorandum with the Troika loansharks. ONLY GD & KKE voted against the memorandum.

    It would make no sense for a disappointed SYRIZA voter who feels betrayed by Tsipras’ summersault, and transformation into a pro-memorandum politician, to depart SYRIZA and join any of the other pro-memorandum parties.

    The only anti-memorandum choices they have left are the Greek Nationalist Golden Dawn party ( Χρυσή Αυγή ) ,or the Stalinist internationalist Communist KKE.

    The KKE is all for granting Greek citizenship to illegal immigrants, so anti-memorandum Greeks that don’t support KKE’s open borders policy have only one choice, Golden Dawn.

    Tsipras will maintain reasonably high levels of popularity until the memorandum measures actually start getting implemented in a couple months time. After that it is all downhill for SYRIZA.

  7. There has never been an instance where communism/socialism has been a success – unless you enjoy being one of the poor Proletariats who work in sweat shops for the Filthy Few. Communism never has and never will be a solution to the corrupt Capitalist banking system. I knew Syriza would fail as soon as I realized they were going to leave the exact same criminals in charge of the economy rather than prosecuting them.

  8. Having faith in politicians is utterly naive and stupid.
    When there is a political party with good intentions for the people with people’s support (like Golden Dawn) their leaders are killed or imprisoned and the party destroyed.
    There is zero hope in politicians. The revolution must be done by the peope itself.

  9. We have smart Greeks but they don’t get elected or can’t stay in power because most Greeks are far leftist idiots.

  10. Not real capitalism this is manufactured crony capitalism with big businesses, banks and government colluding. Big differences between the two versions.

  11. Does real capitalism exist anywhere these days? I am seriously asking. Thanks, in advance for your response.

  12. No. Real capitalism means numerous small and medium-sized firms in every sector, and no advertising.

    What we have today are giant corporations who buy out competitors and spend millions on huge advertising campaigns. So “successful” corporations end up being the worst of the far right and the far left by creating monopolies and socializing individuals into being a blob of mindless consumers.

    And, unlike Hitler and Stalin, they do all this without having to fire a shot.