Greece: SYRIZA central committee members resign, new left group to challenge in elections

Issue 
Yanis Varoufakis: “Instead of becoming engaged in an election campaign which in my mind is quite sad and fruitless, I'm going

Fifty-three members out of SYRIZA's 201-strong central committee, have resigned on August 26 in protest at the new bail-out deal SYRIZA signed that agrees to the type of brutal austerity measures SYRIZA was elected in January to oppose, Enikos.gr said that day.

Most have joined the Popular Unity movement, supported by former members of SYRIZA's Left Platform that will run on an anti-austerity platform in new elections called when SYRIZA Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras resigned recently.

The resigning members accuse the Tsipras government of ignoring SYRIZA's programme and collective processes, including the central committee's decision to call an extraordinary conference, in order to sign a new harsh memorandum. Tsipras then called snap elections without consulting the central committee.

Popular Unity seeks to bring together broad anti-austerity forces into a ticket for the September 20 elections. It includes 25 current SYRIZA members of parliament.

High-profile former finance minister in the SYRIZA government and opponent of the new bailout deal, Yanis Varoufakis, has said he will not take part in the elections, which he called “sad and fruitless”.

ABC.net.au said on August 27 that Varoufakis had sympathy Popular Unity. However, he fundamentally disagrees with, which he called their “isolationist” stance of desiring a return to the drachma – the so-called “Grexit” perspective.

Instead, Varoufakis said his focus had turned to politics at the European level, saying: “I don't believe this parliament that will emerge from the coming election can ever hope to establish a majority in favour of a rational economic program and a progressive one.

“Instead of becoming engaged in an election campaign which in my mind is quite sad and fruitless, I'm going to remain politically active — maybe more active than I have been so far — at the European level, trying to establish a European network.”

In an August 26 statement explaining its decision to help form Popular Unity, SYRIZA's Left Platform said: “Alexis Tsipras, with his proclamation of another austerity memorandum, has done a complete about-face that is radically opposed to the commitments and struggles of SYRIZA.

“The foremost promise made by Tsipras is Greece's compliance with the austerity measures of the previous memorandums and the even more drastic demands of a new third memorandum, which places the country in miserable servitude. Tsipras agreed to all this without the consent of the people, and without the consent of the members and leading bodies of SYRIZA.

“The early elections called by Tsipras are being held in order to place a tombstone over the proud 'Oxi' ['No'] vote of the July 5 referendum [that rejected creditors' demands] - to place a tombstone over the anti-memorandum struggles of the past and the expectations of the people for the future.

“The call for elections now not only tears up the anti-memorandum commitments of SYRIZA, but also asks the Greek people to put the noose around their own necks by making them choose between the alternatives of Tspiras or New Democracy or PASOK or Potami, which together constitute the parties of the new Memorandum consensus.

“The Left Platform will stay faithful to the commitments of SYRIZA. In keeping with the cry of 'Oxi' from the Greek people, it today raises the banner of struggle as the way out of the crisis, and toward reconstruction and progress for the country.

“The Left Platform will immediately participate in the creation of a broad, anti-Memorandum alliance - a progressive, democratic front that will campaign in the elections for a decisive rejection of all the memorandums.

“For renouncing the bulk of the debt. For defending the defiant 'Oxi' of the Greek people in the referendum vote. For cancelling the austerity measures affecting wages, pensions and social spending. For stopping the sell-off of Greece's public properties. For putting the country on a new path of national independence and sovereignty - an alternative, progressive course leading to recovery.”

SYRIZA has a 2% lead over the right-wing New Democracy party, according to an August 25 poll, Enikos.gr said that day. The survey found 24% of respondents would vote SYRIZA and 22% for New Democracy. The far right Golden Dawn got 6%, the centrist To Potami 5.5%, the traditional social democratic party PASOK 4.5% and right-nationalists ANEL – who were in coalition with SYRIZA – 3.5%.

On the left, Popular Unity and the Greek Communist Party (KKE) were both on 4.5%.

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