The Blog

Syriza Must Form the Next Greek Government

Without sentimentality, the newfound consecration of the Greek government to enact brutalising austerity measures, so corrosive that even the IMF doubts its promised successes, will now once more test the resolve of the Greek people.

Without sentimentality, the newfound consecration of the Greek government to enact brutalising austerity measures, so corrosive that even the IMF doubts its promised successes, will now once more test the resolve of the Greek people. With Syriza upon the precipice of breaking itself apart, hope yet remains amid the pains of melancholy -- of defeat and of fracture -- that the events of July 13th did not herald the end of resistance to the Eurozone's assault on democracy, but an awakening.

Alexis Tsipras has called an election to seek a mandate on the Eurozone's misnamed 'bailout agreement', which neither promises Greece a positive future of economic growth nor seeks their people's assent. As the country enters this familiar space so to does Syriza enter the next stage in its evolution.

It will be a testing period for a party that is built upon shifting sands. Wrought and fissured with ideological difference and facing a political reality that scarcely fits within even a theoretical framework of expectation (who could predict the Eurozone's indifference to a member state?), factions that were pressed together, but not petrified, will now start to become undone.

Splintering has already begun with the creation of Laiki Enotita by the Minister for Energy Panagiotis Lafazanis, who is joined by 25 Syriza rebels. Over a third of the party's MPs rebelled against the government's vote to ratify the bailout agreement on August 14th. Over the coming weeks defections will haemorrhage from the governing party. If Zoi Konstantopoulou, Speaker of the Hellenic Parliament, or Yanis Varoufakis, whom Slavoj Zizek has referred to as the "authentic hero in [...] the Greek crisis story", abdicate to LE, then Syriza may be finished.

Syriza's leadership now understand that ideological passion has become subsumed by political reality. It became apparent during long held negotiations that lasted throughout that warm summer's night, that far from providing the Greek government with a new platform of support upon which to negotiate, their historic referendum contributing nothing. That holy-grail of debt-restructure suffered, if not postponement, then erasure.

It is clear to the Greek people and to Tsipras that Syriza is implementing the political and ideological demands of its enemy. Is this not precisely the predicament that the eurozone wished to orchestrate? Not merely defeat and fracture, not only annihilation, but humiliation.

Under such circumstances there is a romanticism that demands a mass-exodus to Laiki Enotitato, flowing from that very same fervour that saw a grassroots movement elected as a party of government. Yet such a move today is even more perilous than it was before the bailout. Prior to the agreement the Greek treasury scarcely had control of their own ministry. One imagines now that Euclid Tsakalotos, Greek Finance Minister, does not even hold the keys to his offices.

The occupation of the administrative functions of government by the Eurozone's technocrats means that no effective planning can be put into motion. It has been revealed that under Varoufakis the Greek Ministry of Finance was secretly working on a financial contingency plan for a Greek exit. Since this revelation has been accused of high treason. Actions that sought to lessen the tragedy and potential suffering of the country's population are now considered criminal. Without any effective planning or even the ability to formulate an alternative financial model, exit would with certainty induce a humanitarian disaster.

Left then to tender to an unpopular austerity agenda, to sharpen and to temper the blade before again returning to the polishing wheel, Tsipras has not simply called an election of the Hellenic Parliament but opened the floodgates of public opinion. It will be a long night that will finish with the election of a new government. What shape that will take depends on whether the electorate still wish to remain within the Eurozone. If the number of Syriza MPs shrink then an extended, perhaps even a grand coalition, will be formed.

With any debt-restructure agreement under erasure we on the left may be tempted to think that a Greek exit is the only solution to avert the Syriza inspired demand for european reform. Speaking to the BBC, Greek Labour Minister George Katrougalos remained defiant, without humiliation, of the Eurozone's bailout agreement. Asserting still the desire to achieve a better deal for the Greek people the function of the prospect of debt-restructure remains. It's status, sous rature, struck through, has not prevented it from still shaping the Greek government's opposition.

Although overwhelmed Syriza still possess all the tools of critique. As Katrougalos said, "Greece is now the mirror of Europe"; Europe's treatment of the Greek people has been war by other means. The defeat of the left in Greece should have come as no surprise, it is simply the manifestation of the strength and perfidious indifference of global capital. The crisis remains ongoing and will inevitably strike again. If Greece is to remain within the eurozone then Syriza knows that it must prepare to fight this battle from within -- lay claim to this war of attrition -- and ensure that the Greek people delivers a strong Syriza led government.