A friend called me on Sunday morning and claimed that the atmosphere in the SYRIZA congress and the speech of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras reminded her very much of the “glorious” days of socialist PASOK and the leadership appearance of its founder Andreas Papandreou. As I was living abroad in the early 1980’s I had missed the climate of “euphoria and success.” Back then, my friend was swept away by the socialist tsunami and remained a supporter until the late 1990’s when reformist Kostas Simitis took the lead after Papandreou’s death. She said, she left PASOK for two reasons: 1. for the party policy of mass hiring in the public sector 2. because Simitis was “right wing” in terms of economic policy and nowadays “I’d say that he was a neoliberal. You can see that in the old Simitis’ ministers like Loverdos and Diamantopoulou.”
She started to support the Greek left, she voted several times for SYRIZA, yet she couldn’t resist her doubts after the signing of the 3. bailout in summer 2015. She has been closely followed the developments and on Sunday morning she told me “well, now the engagement is over. It was the wording, the rhetoric that reminded me so much of the old Pasok days.”
She argued that SYRIZA has been clearly following PASOK policies with features of Simitis’ neoliberalism and Papandreou’s clientelism and hiring and that she will no longer support the left-wing party.
I told her that with without the support of PASOK, SYRIZA would have never managed to claim power. We both agreed on that fact that everybody in Greece is well aware of.
During the congress days, we heard several voices especially on social media claiming that SYRIZA made a step to the right. I have no idea whether these voices were coming form the opposition and were trying to undermine the congress or whether they were honest voices coming from disappointed left-wing supporters. Probably both.
It is not a secret that some flanks of SYRIZA vehemently oppose the economic policies being applied. There are SYRIZA members who are literally furious. But they do not abandon the party. Because “power is sweet” or because they still hope that they can change things.
On Sunday, Prime Minister Aelxis Tsipras received 93.54% of the votes of 3,000 delegates and he was reelected the leader of SYRIZA. There was no other candidate.
210 delegates voted against him.
“The renewal of confidence in me constitutes a renewal of responsibility for a SYRIZA that is more massive, more inclusive, more efficient in the difficult battles awaiting us, for a Greece of justice and prosperity,” Tsipras wrote on Twitter after his reelection.
In the first party congress in 2013, Tsipras had received 74.08%.
However, those delegates who are disappointed with the implemented polices sent a strong message to the party leadership. Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos received the most votes when delegates voted for the party’s central committee: 1,322 in total. Tsakalotos belong to “Movement 53” that often criticizes the SYRIZA policies.
PS after ruling for almost three decades, PASOK knows the rules of the game better than SYRIZA and does not plan to abandon the ship of power. Right.