The warlike statement of Syriza’s Political Secretariat

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Statement by the Political Secretariat of Syriza [14 May 2015]

From the first moment that this government was established, it became clear – both domestically, and abroad – that the mandate given by the Greek people is binding and comprises of a compass in the negotiations.

The red lines of the government are red lines of the Greek people, expressing the interests of the workers, self-employed, pensioners, farmers, and the youth. They expressed the need for the country to enter a new path of growth, with social justice and redistribution of wealth at its core. 

The insistence of the lenders in implementing the MoU program of the Samaras’s government, creating an asphyxiating stranglehold of political pressures and financial asphyxiation in the country, comes in direct contrast to the notion of democracy and popular sovereignty in Europe. It expresses the obsessive fixation to austerity that deconstructs the welfare state, the oligarchic direction of European affairs in closed rooms that are unaffected by the will of the people, [and] which pave the way to the rise of the extreme right in Europe.

These requirements cannot be accepted. They cannot be accepted by the Greek people who fought all these past years in order to put an end to the criminal policies of the Memoranda. They cannot be accepted by the people of Europe and by the progressive societies and political powers, who fight for a Europe of solidarity and Democracy. 

The citizens of Greece and Europe are not passive consumers of 8 o’clock news, on the contrary, we believe that they can be co-stars in a negotiation that concerns the common fate of all of us, in the scale of Europe and the world.

SYRIZA will take any possible initiative to inform the Greek people, but also the European people. In every city, in every neighborhood and workplace, but also in all countries of Europe, the MPs, MEPs, and members of SYRIZA will come together with [other] members of SYRIZA and forces of solidarity [towards the party] in a wide mobilization call for the win of democracy and of dignity.

Now is the time for the people themselves to enter the battle. 

We will win.

Original text (in Greek) can be found here.

Photo: Sofokleousin

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The pro-rupture article of uncompromising Minister Lafazanis

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So, it’s been a long time since I have run any update on the blog. I return with the pro-rupture, uncompromising OP-ED article published today in Greek CRASH magazine by Panagiotis Lafazanis, the Greek Minister of Reconstruction of Production, Environment & Energy. Bear in mind that Lafazanis is one of the most hardcore members of Syriza’s Leftist platform. He is also one of the most influential. Once again, I translated the whole thing, leaving all judgment to you. The Greek version can be found in the website of the Ministry, here. In what follows, you can read my English translation.

 

WE SHOULD ISOLATE THE “FIFTH COLUMN”

Article of the Minister of Reconstruction of Production, Environment & Energy Panagiotis Lafazanis, published in today’s Crash magazine

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The interview of Syriza’s Lafazanis, hardcore Left-platform Minister

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You can read the original interview in the website of the Ministry of Reconstruction of Production, Environment & Energy, here. The interview was given to newspaper “ΚΕΦΑΛΑΙΟ,” and specifically to journalist Niki Zormpas. Below, you can find my translation of the interview in English.

 

Interview of the Minister of Reconstruction of Production, Environment & Energy, Panagiotis Lafazanis, to the newspaper “ΚΕΦΑΛΑΙΟ” and journalist Niki Zormpas [Athens, 28 March 2015]

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GR Political Economy Digest #18

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Here are the top articles on the political economy of Greece to read today:

  1. Greece: The gathering storm, by Nick Malkoutzis | Macropolis.gr, Mar 5 2015
  2. Eurozone QE is here. What could possibly go wrong?, by Alen Mattich | The Wall Street Journal (Moneybeat), Mar 5 2015
  3. Greece Struggles to Make Debt Math Work in Bailout Standoff, by Nikolaos Chrysoloras, Rebecca Christie and Vassilis Karamanis | Bloomberg, Mar 5 2015
  4. Greece outlines radical immigration reforms, by Preethi Nallu | Al Jazeera, Mar 5 2015
  5. 5 questions ECB boss Draghi will face at Thursday’s meeting, by Sara Sjolin | MarketWatch, Mar 5 2015
  6. Spain insists Greece will need a third bailout – as it happened, by Angela Monaghan | The Guardian, Mar 4 2015
  7. Germany says third Greek aid package not on Eurogroup agenda, by Andreas Rinke and Madeline Chambers | Reuters, Mar 4 2015
  8. Can Greece avoid going bankrupt this month?, by Mehreen Khan | The Telegraph, Mar 4 2015
  9. Greece’s survival depends on more than debt agreements, by Peter Foster | Financial Post, Mar 3 2015
  10. Austerity is not Greece’s problem, by Ricardo Hausmann | Project Syndicate, Mar 3 2015
  11. Syriza’s about-face, by Stathis N. Kalyvas | Foreign Affairs, Mar 2 2015

Photo: Ilias Makris (Kathimerini, 01/03/2015)

GR Political Economy Digest #17

NEIN

While Friday’s Eurogroup storm seems to have passed, today is an equally (if not more) important date for the fate of Greece. Yanis Varoufakis, the Greek Minister of Finance, is expected to send a list of proposed reforms to TIFKAT (The ‘Institutions’ Formerly Known As Troika) for approval. Analysts, markets, and entire governments might have sighed in relief on Friday, but it is today actually that will illuminate whether a substantial compromise has been reached in the last Eurogroup meeting.

There is not much to say at this point, other than to wait and see what Varoufakis has planned. The list of reforms is expected to be quite short (no longer than 3-5 pages) and concise. Hopefully, it will also include meaningful proposals that speak more of a “compromise,” rather than the hardcore Left platform of Syriza or ANEL. “Wait, what?,” you may ask. “Who cares about those hardcore Lefties and the few ultra-nationalist crazies of ANEL? They are a fringe part anyways, right? And they wouldn’t jeopardize their ascent to power so soon, would they? As long as the moderate part of Syriza is willing to compromise, then there is no problem!” Well… I would love to share your optimism, but I am quite wary of the influence of the anti-austerity and anti-reform hardliners. I am also quite confident that we will witness some important schisms in the next couple of weeks – iff (if and only if) Varoufakis and Tsipras are true to Friday’s deal. Some senior Syriza officials and important figures of the Left have already begun speaking up (Manolis Glezos, John Milios, Sofia Sakorafa, and even Mikis Theodorakis). I suspect that more voices will soon follow in tune. Will that be enough to bring the government down? This is extremely early to say. But don’t be surprised if the inter-governmental dynamics change drastically in the upcoming weeks.

In any case, happy Lent Monday everybody! Here is the list of the top articles to read on the political economy of Greece today: 

  1. Greece: Four more months of hope and risks, by Frederik Ducrozet | Credit Agricole CIB, Feb 23 2015
  2. Greek bailout: Athens submits economic reform plan today (Live updates), by Graeme Wearden | The Guardian, Feb 23 2015
  3. Tsipras tamed as economists declare Greece loses austerity fight, by Simon Kennedy & Jennifer Ryan | Bloomberg, Feb 23 2015
  4. Greece scrambles to send draft reforms to EU institutions, by Peter Spiegel & Kerin Hope | The Financial Times, Feb 23 2015
  5. In defence of can-kicking, by Duncan Weldon | Medium, Feb 23 2015
  6. A hard week ahead for Greece after a last-minute deal, by Max Ehrenfreund | The Washington Post, Feb 23 2015
  7. Greece’s future is its past, by Rebecca Harding | Pieria, Feb 23 2015
  8. Greece: A debt colony with a bit of “home rule”, by Paul Mason | Channel4 News, Feb 23 2015
  9. Varoufakis ‘absolutely certain’ Greek reforms will meet approval | Deutsche Welle, Feb 22 2015
  10. Spain said to lead EU push to force terms on Greece, by Nikolaos Chrysoloras & Karl Stagno Navarra | Bloomberg, Feb 22 2015
  11. Ten days that shook the euro; how Greece came to the brink, by Alastair MacDonald & Jan Strupczewski | Reuters, Feb 22 2015
  12. Greece readies reform promises, by George Georgiopoulos | Reuters, Feb 22 2015

Photo Credits: Ilias Makris (Kathimerini, 22.02.2015)

Judgement time for Syriza

Yesterday, after a very brief yet polarized pre-election period, the Greek people went to the polls and voted for their new government. Regardless of personal preferences or ideological inclinations, the result was an astounding victory for the Left in Greece. SYRIZA, the Coalition of the Radical Left, officially won the parliamentary elections falling one seat short of outright majority. As many supporters of the party chanted until the early hours of Monday morning: “It’s SYRIZA’s time.”

Many things can been said about the party, its Leader, its programmatic pledges, and the views expressed by a number of its (former and new) MPs. Since 2010, SYRIZA has adopted a highly inflammatory populist rhetoric, and has surged at the top of the “anti-austerity” camp in Greece. It’s elected representatives have criticized excessively – often, using highly derogatory language – both the previously elected Greek governments, and the Troika of lenders responsible for overlooking the bailout packages received by Greece. They have attacked the former parties of the establishment (New Democracy and PASOK), they have pledged to overthrow the existing oligarchic power-structure in place, they have vouched to overturn all of the policies decided by the previous (democratically elected!) governments, and they have insisted over and over again that they would not honor the agreements made between Greece and its international lenders.

In crisis-ridden Greece, it is no wonder that they turned themselves from a fringe party in the margins of Greek politics to the official opposition party in the parliamentary elections of 2012, to coming first in the European Elections of 2014, and eventually forming a government after yesterday’s elections. By strategically capitalizing on the anger and desperation of the Greek people, they have managed to propel themselves at the forefront of the political scene. In order to do so, they have followed a smart tactic of excessive promise-making and pledges that are not only unfeasible (given the current financial situation of Greece), but also deeply destructive of any prospect of recovery from the country’s current state. Playing favorites with the unions, embracing a statist approach in decision-making, and proposing a host of anti-liberal and anti-reformist economic and social measures, SYRIZA does not seem to grasp the fundamental issues at the crux of the Greek downfall, and does not offer a viable progressive-reformist plan to move forward.

SYRIZA has promised many things. Most of all, however, it has promised new ‘hope’ to the people of Greece. Even its main pre-election slogan was “Hope is coming.” It has elevated tremendously the expectations of the domestic population, but it has also managed to put itself in the center of international debates about austerity and economic growth – especially within Europe.

All eyes are on Tsipras and his party now. There is no scapegoating this time around, nobody else to blame. It is them, now, that will have to take the difficult decisions about the country. It is them that will have to meet face-to-face with the Troika of lenders, with foreign Ministers of Finance, and with the person they have demonized the most in the past 3 years: Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor. They will now become the new government – albeit with the help of the ultra-nationalist, anti-liberal, far-right party ANEL (Independent Greeks). In a sense, maybe this is the most appropriate of all setups: both SYRIZA and ANEL have championed an anti-austerity, anti-memorandum, and even anti-European rhetoric. They have both starkly opposed any and every attempt to reform Greece in the past few years, and have made no concessions whatsoever. Now, they are both in power, together.

I am not very optimistic about what tomorrow brings for Greece. Especially after SYRIZA reaching out to ANEL for a coalition government, rather than any of the other two center-left parties (PASOK, the old party of the establishment; and To Potami, a new party created early 2014 by a former journalist). One could say that this was to be expected, and I fully agree. But I was also hoping for a better ‘kolotoumba’ (i.e. somersault, in Greek) than this.

We will witness, of course, many ‘kolotoumbes’ in the upcoming months, especially as they pertain to the programmatic promises of SYRIZA about the economy and our existing agreements with Troika. Let’s hope that they happen soon. And once they do, let’s hope that they are enough to keep this country afloat.

GR Political Economy Digest #9

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Sketch by Ilias Makris (Kathimerini, 20 Jan 2015)

 

You can find the hottest articles of the day, starting from the best and building down, below:

  1. How Greece and Germany brought Europe’s long-simmering crisis back to a boil, by Marcus Walker & Marianna Kakaounaki | The Wall Street Journal, Jan 22 2015
  2. Let Greece profit from German history, by Jeffrey Sachs | The Guardian, Jan 21 2015
  3. Greece in limbo: Post-election 2015 scenarios, by Filippa Chatzistavrou & Sofia Michalaki | European Policy Institutes Network, Jan 21 2015
  4. Revenge of disaffected Europe risks crisis sparked in Greece, by Maria Petrakis, Donal Griffin, Ben Sills and Thomas Penny | Bloomberg News, Jan 22 2015
  5. Germany’s debt forgiveness of 1953 – The wrong precedent! | Observing Greece, Jan 22 2015
  6. Syriza is now a mainstream party and there is little for Europe to fear in its electoral success, by Theofanis Exadaktylos | LSE EUROPP Blog, Jan 21 2015
  7. 5 Things to look for in Eurozone QE, by Brian Blackstone | The Wall Street Journal, Jan 21 2015
  8. ‘For five years Greece has been like a patient slowly bleeding’, by Helena Smith | The Guardian, Jan 21 2015
  9. Still no exit for Greece, by Kemal Dervis | The Brookings Institution, Jan 21 2015
  10. National Bank of Greece is an asymmetric risk, by The Enlightened Investor | Alpha Seeking, Jan 21 2015
  11. Greece polls: Papandreou and Venizelos locked in political battle, by Peter Spiegel | Financial Times, Jan 21 2015
  12. Landmark election in Greece, by Yannis Papadimitriou | Deutsche Welle, Jan 21 2015

 

Photo: Ilias Makris / Kathimerini