Interview with Anastasia Giamali from SYRIZA
The Greek elections are coming on the 20th of September. We ask four comrades and friends (Anastasia Giamali from SYRIZA, Yiannos Giannoulos from Laiki Enotita, Sokratis Giannopoulos from the former Youth of SYRIZA, Kostas Gousis from ANTARSYA) some questions about their experience of the Left Government, the split of SYRIZA, the relationship between Greece and Europe, the Memorandum, and the political positions of the party they support. They answered not as representatives of each party, but according to their personal opinion and, at the same time, as supporters or candidates of each party.
How do you evaluate the experience of the government of the Left these seven months?
The first seven months of governance were dedicated to the negotiation process with the creditors/institutions to such an extent that it pretty much absorbed all the energy of the government. Yet, we can reach some conclusions at least on a preliminary level:
As far as the negotiation goes, most of the facts are now known to all and I don’t think that the problem concerned the negotiating strategy but the assumptions. SYRIZA did not expect that the creditors would push it to the limits and thus there was a lack of a complete proposal to deal with this situation, especially with the financial and banking asphyxiation.
As far as “governance” goes, the emphasis was placed in the promotion of emergency legislation, some of it with a clear ideological stance (prison bill, citizenship bill, bill to tackle the humanitarian crisis). Indeed we must note that some of the legislative initiatives of the first period were very daring and progressive for the country given the timing.
From then on, my view is that SYRIZA –due to lack of time– failed to “govern” in the sense that it did not have enough time to change the governance model, so it merely staffed some key positions with people of trust, in order to –at least– be able to have an overview of a state and a state apparatus which had been designed and built to be hostile to anyone that is not part of the establishment.
After the whole period of negotiations, we woule like shortly your opinion a) the Eurozone and whether Grece should stay or not in it b) the EU as a field of struggle (for the movement, the Left etc).
During and after the negotiation some things became crystal clear. First, the mere existence of a leftwing government within the Eurozone worried and caused anxiety to the European elite. Secondly, it became evident that within the Eurozone there are conflicting priorities and interests and there is no solid bloc.
On the other hand it was proven that with the systemic danger of contaminating Europe with the Greek virus, the choices were limited to cynicism, naked of any pro-European integration veil and in the end, hostile towards Greece. If a conclusion can be drawn given the parallel developments in other European countries (Spain, Portugal, Ireland, Corbyn becoming the new head of Labour in the UK) is that the EU remains the core of class struggle.
What do you think are the immediate political priority for SYRIZA after the elections of 20/9? (basic demands, priorities, fronts of collaboration and tasks)?
It is fairly obvious that, as a whole, the Left has not lived up to the challenge presented by the times. This may have to do with inefficient analyses or organisational preparation, but at its core lie two things that together set a certain mood among both the people and the organisations of the Left: first, the ideologisation of the decade-long heritage of defeat and the idealisation of lost struggles; second, the abrupt change of Syriza's scale which was expected to turn from party to government. From then on, breakups and fragmentation are almost inherent to the history of the movement, not just in Greece but internationally. In every country there are many distinct left-wing collectivities, parties and groups, that are products of internal disruptions and that very often have indiscernible differences between them.
The Greek Left after several years of initiatives of collaboration like Syriza and Antarsya know is getting again split and divided. How do you evaluate the current situation and which do you believe are the future perspectives?
To answer that very briefly, the first strategic goal for both Greece and Europe is to not allow the “left-wing parenthesis” to close, that is to have a left-wing government after the election. Second goal: the renegotiation of all open matters, i.e. prevention of main home foreclosures, restoration of collective bargaining, retention of important infrastructures under public control. Third goal: combatting corruption both in its political and institutional aspect and in the framework of income redistribution via taxation, i.e. make the rich pay.
The recent years, Greece became the center of interest for the international movement because of the struggle of Greek people against austerity and also because of SYRIZA becoming the first left government. Where do you think we stand today after the signing of the third Memorandum? What is your message to the people that struggle in Europe and in the whole world?
The struggle continues. We are at a very early stage, we succeeded in bringing a left-wing party to power in the EU, our goal must be for the “Greek virus” to spread to other countries, Spain, Portugal, Ireland, so that a critical mass is formed for a confrontation with neo-liberalism on a European level. In Greece, Syriza was forced to retreat, because it was faced with a threat of sudden death orchestrated and promoted by the most extreme neoliberal circles in Europe and the Greek capitalist block, with the aim to get rid of the left-wing government in Greece and to intimidate the other European people. It is what Wolfgang Schäuble cynically described as “they will skin you like hares and wave your skins to Podemos”... Even if we look at it as a simple reflex action, the first goal of the movement both in Greece and abroad should be to refute the expectation of systemic forces all over the continent.
Anastasia Giamali is a journalist, candidate with SYRIZA at the general elections of 20 September.
- Translated by: N/A
- The original text was first published on: Written for AnalyzeGreece!