I bumped into a very interesting Greek article today, published in the webzine Epikairo, that gives a good indication of Syriza’s former meddling with anti-corruption and tax evasion legislation. While the angle of those writing the article is clearly one of a devoted center-left voter (I would assume PASOK or DIM.AR.), the article itself is quite interesting for people from all ideological presuppositions. It traces 6 of the draft bills that were voted in the Greek parliament since 2010, which pertain to anti-corruption and combatting tax evasion. As it seems, Syriza has been continuously undermining all efforts to combat these issues when legislation was proposed by other parties, either by voting “present,” or simply “no” to those bills.
Today, Syriza seems committed to hit hard on tax-evasion, corruption, oligarchs, and the cartels. In fact, the proclamations of Yanis Varoufakis and Alexis Tsipras suggest that Syriza will invest heavily in anti-corruption policies, both during the interim 4-month extension of the existing program, but also afterwards. They both also seem to believe that they can amass great amounts of money out of such measures, and quite quickly for that matter. Up until its rise to power, however, Syriza had not craze about anti-corruption. One could say that Syriza did not want to help the parties of the establishment to pass ‘half-hearted’ legislation, especially given the fact that there were specific provisions in favor of the status-quo sneaked in many of these laws. One could also argue that the previous stance of Syriza should not be taken heavily into account, since now that it is in the government it will have the leverage (apart from the will!) to draft meaningful legislation and implement much-needed policies contra the aforementioned pathologies.
To a large extent, I agree: how Syriza operated in the past should not be seen as a determinant of how it will function in the future. Nevertheless, it is indicative of the larger anti-reformist stance of the party, a continuous intransigence not to cooperate with the remaining parties of the “status-quo” (well, that was before it became part of it), and its dependence in its clientelistic linkages with public sector workers and specific interest groups. (These clientelistic linkages, of course, were created by the two former big parties of the status-quo – PASOK and thereupon New Democracy. Nevertheless, Syriza increasingly joined the game since the beginning of the crisis, taking advantage of the dissatisfaction of the clientelistic state with the status-quo, and taking over the reigns from the two other parties.)
In any case, you can find the Greek version of the article here. Right below, you can find my translation of it. (Bear in mind: it was written in early January, before the Greek Elections had happened.)