The absurdity of Greece’s ruling party is a mirror of the paradox of the country’s public opinion and political thinking. Greece’s most popular leftist party has a “Left Platform.” On Monday night, SYRIZA’s infamous Left Platform put on a great show that looked suspiciously like an election campaign.
With the country one inch from bankruptcy and with Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras signing an agreement with harsh austerity measures in order to save it, the more leftist than thou part of SYRIZA started its own revolution within the party. One wonders what Tsipras was thinking while watching Left Platform chief Panagiotis Lafazanis making a leadership appearance and giving a speech in which he said, more or less, that the Left Platform will fight against party policy to implement the reforms required by the bailout program. Or, in other words, fight whatever the Prime Minister is trying to legislate in regards to the bailout. Lafazanis indirectly accused Tsipras of betraying the party, and the ideals of the Left.
Lafazanis used all the “anti-Memorandum” rhetoric that brought SYRIZA to power. He gave a speech full of brave promises, dated communist slogans and a bit of Soviet lore, saying that iskra, the platform’s website, took its name from the newspaper comrade Lenin issued back in the good old days a century ago. Completely disengaged from reality — and the 21st Century — Lafazanis got emotional when he explained that iskra in Russian means spark and that iskra will ignite new struggles and so on. The crowd was repeatedly chanting “No.”
In essence, Lafazanis challenged Tsipras’ leadership. He actually said that the dissident voices within the party will increase and he repeated several times that he and his followers are anti-Memorandum and the Prime Minister is not. He usurped the 62% of the “No” votes in the referendum, cleverly circumventing the fact that the “No” was to austerity and not to the euro. And of course he forgot that at least 70% of Greeks want to stay in the euro. He propagandized the return to the drachma, forgetting again that the 36.5% who voted for SYRIZA did so after Tsipras had promised that everything the party does will be within the Eurozone.
Of course he never mentioned how the Greek economy will survive, much less recover. What economic plan these proud, defiant, no-to-everything comrades will follow when Greece leaves the blackmailing Europeans behind and goes the lonely path toward… whatever. Vague slogans like “people’s rule” and “just society” don’t put bread on anyone’s table unless there is an economic program. And, naturally, Greek leftists and economic planning are two concepts that don’t belong in the same sentence.
Once more, Lafazanis spoke venomously against Europe, conveniently forgetting that for many years the euros jingling in his pocket and buttering his bread are courtesy of the European Commission “blackmailers.” But then again, historically, the Greek Left has thrived on foreign money and absence of government.
The show put by the Left Platform means that by the time the government will try to implement the required reforms in the fall, the faction will rebel and call for elections. In the elections, the question should be clear: Europe or isolation. Then the Left Platform can pursue its dream to make Greece a Mediterranean Venezuela. Most likely SYRIZA will split in two and the country will go through a painful period of government absence.