Find here the introduction to SYRIZA’s governmental program, as it was approved by the Central Committee on Saturday, 5 September. This introduction summarizes the party’s analysis on what happened throughout the negotiation process, but also its strategy for the new period.
INTRODUCTION TO THE GOVERNMENTAL PROGRAM
THE LEFT GOVERNMENT UNDER NEW CONDITIONS: A STRONGHOLD TO DEFEND.
The 25th of January marked a political shift without precedent for the political situation in Greece and Europe. For the first time after the 2nd World War a radical left party managed to ascend in government against a backdrop of generalized economic, political and social crisis.
The last 5-year period of memorandum policies dislocated traditional political and social representations and destroyed the social coalition which actively or passively supported the neoliberal process of Greek economy’s restructuring and relevant social and political relations of the last 25 years. And all this went on as the mild and gradual restructuring process was replaced by a brutal program of rapid structural adjustments and internal devaluation that did not leave any margin for possible material equivalents (low-rate borrowing, tax exemptions, state-organized evasion, limited wage increase etc) for those social classes that supported the neoliberal power coalition during the previous period.
At the same time, the collapse of the previous social and political alliances coexisted with the rise of popular volition for collective mobilization, both traditional (strikes, demonstrations) and novel ones (Constitution Square, social solidarity initiatives). In this context of rising popular struggles, SYRIZA understood that the time has come for the left to undertake the initiative of representing a new social alliance, which seemed to have the potential to seize governmental power. And this was exactly what happened.
The political program which accelerated and completed the social rearrangement that was taking place was the Program of Thessaloniki with its four pillars: Addressing the humanitarian crisis, restarting the economy, restoring the labor law and reconstructing democratically the state.
It was a program aimed at a redistribution of income and power in favor of classes that had suffered major blows by the Memorandum policy. However, it was always a fact that in order to implement this program, a tough negotiation with the Creditors was required, so as to eliminate the principal leverage for enforcing fiscal adjustment programs: Debt and the Greek economy’s exclusion from capital markets.
However, the weapon of financial asphyxiation was used very effectively by the Creditors and the Institutions throughout the whole negotiating process of the new Government. Once SYRIZA assumed power, funding suffocation from the ECB and the constant threat of a collapse of the country’s financial system was put on use in order to exercise economic and social pressure on the new Government. The aim was either its overthrowing or its unconditional surrender and the adoption of the previous fiscal adjustment and internal devaluation program.
Despite our limited forces we tried to defend ourselves in any way possible against these pressures while showcasing a novel political ethos and a new social perspective both domestically and abroad.
With regard to the negotiation, despite time wasting and possible tactical failures, we did everything that was in our hand to withstand financial asphyxiation (delaying payments to the IMF, refusing to extend the previous bailout agreement, imposing capital controls so as to protect the banking system from ECB’s financial blackmail), as well as all that was needed in order to send a political message to Europe that the internal devaluation program has failed and does not enjoy any popular support.
This political struggle’s culmination was the referendum on the 5th of July, a moment of popular uplifting and fighting spirit that will stay indelible in the memory of European peoples and will produce its political results in the near future. A prerequisite for this, however, is that the referendum should not work in the opposite direction, meaning that it should not become a reason for the frustration of the popular classes, since the aftermath did not comply with the initial enthusiasm. The struggle during and after the referendum for framing these events with an interpretation should not be taken lightly as there are political forces distorting the reasons for the referendum and its result with the main objective to usurp it and use it as a political vehicle for surviving as opposition.
It is therefore necessary to remember that the referendum’s declared objective was to strengthen the government’s bargaining position in an unequal and asymmetrical negotiation. We never asserted anything different; we never said that we ask for a mandate in order to blow up the Eurozone, killing in the process first of all ourselves. We asked instead for the rejection of a program of horizontal cuts and tax hikes accompanied by a politically driven feasibility study of the Greek debt which imposed high primary surpluses and by insufficient funding under the old program (the bailout agreement of 2012) which would be extended for just five more months, thus maintaining the economic uncertainty and simply deferring the risk of a Grexit to the near future.
And it was exactly this kind of mandate that we received from the Greek people: to reject this specific proposal of the Institutions, gaining a better but feasible deal, without endangering a broad social disaster, given the extremely negative European context.
3. The blackmailing dilemma