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Popular unity dug out from communist naphthalene

04 September 2015 / 10:09:23  GRReporter
1905 reads

Maria S. Topalova

    There are two reasons for journalists and analysts to deal with the personality of Panagiotis Lafazanis. Will the dissenter from SYRIZA manage to convince those 62% of Greeks who voted NO in the referendum in July to support his NO (the Popular Unity party founded by him) and allow him to play a leading role in the Greek political performance? Secondly, if that happens, how radical will his governing be?
    He himself complains of hostility on the part of European and world public opinion, not quite without a reason. This old man with his Bolshevik appearance and downright backward views does not at all attract such international media interest as Yanis Varoufakis or even Alexis Tsipras enjoyed. He wants to change Europe, like them, to radicalize and awaken the world’s left and to overturn the existing world order, but his total lack of personal charm and any type of modernity condemn him to always play a secondary role.

    All polls indicate that Panagiotis Lafazanis and the Bolsheviks united around him will win about 4% in the upcoming elections and will enter the new Greek parliament. They identify themselves as the only opposition party with a "rational and democratic" alternative to governing - unlike New Democracy, Potami, PASOK and "what is left of SYRIZA" (the expression belongs to Lafazanis), which, according to him again, will unite around the memoranda policies and their application - and unlike Golden Dawn and the communists who are against the memoranda but have no "rational and democratic alternative to governing."
    Lafazanis states that the currency is not a sacred cow for him. He will not stay in the euro zone at any cost if it means a continuous austerity policy. But if he can raise wages and pensions and social spending in the budget within the euro zone, why return to the drachma? "The currency itself means nothing. Neoliberal policy could be just as well be pursued with drachmas. We are opposed to neoliberalism and we will eradicate all its manifestations in Greece," threatens the dissenter from SYRIZA.

    He believes that the financial and budgetary discipline have caused the greatest damage to the Greek economy and therefore he promises voters that he will immediately cancel all three agreements with creditors, restore collective labour contracts, stop any privatization, nationalize banks and all strategic sectors of the Greek economy, such as energy and telecommunications. He will put an end to tax havens of the rich, introduce a minimum taxable income of up to 12,000 euro, immediately reduce the daunting VAT rate of 23%, cancel the controversial property tax and the 23% VAT on private education.
    Where will the budget revenue come from? "It will come from a fairer tax system that will fairly redistribute wealth to the people." Panagiotis Lafazanis defines Greece’s sovereign debt as immoral and illegal, and promises to immediately stop the servicing of it. "The debt is immoral because it benefits only the economic elite of Greece, not the people," is his argument.
    In international terms, Panagiotis Lafazanis advocates a multi-layered policy in the interest of the Greek people as well as cooperation with all nations across the world. "We will not look at the world through the eyes of Brussels and Berlin," he promises and recognizes that the BRICS countries are a priority for his Popular Unity. He wants a policy that is directed towards the Mediterranean, the Balkans and the Middle East. And since he describes himself as "the new and different party in these elections", GRReporter asked him what new and different we could see in the Balkan policy of Greece if he eventually took power.
    "Regarding the dispute over the name of FYROM, we support the option of a composite name with a geographical definition," he said. Exactly the same position is shared by all the other Greek parties from which Lafazanis so earnestly wants to distance himself. "We cannot recognize the independence of Kosovo," was his other response, which also coincides with the position of all Greek governments so far.
    His foreign policy will be firmly against NATO and in favour of withdrawing Greece from the Euro-Atlantic bloc, with all the ensuing consequences. "The new and different party" offers voters Bolshevik phraseology, a utopian economic model that has long since proven to be impossible and a dose of familiar Balkan nationalism. It is interesting how many Greeks will agree with that.

Tags: Panagiotis LafazanisPopular UnityExiting the euro zoneCancellation of memorandaReturn to drachma
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