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SYRIZA has become a party but with a strong internal opposition

15 July 2013 / 23:07:53  GRReporter
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The main opposition party in Greece is no longer a coalition of smaller left-wing and extreme left-wing structures but a single party, which will include individual citizens. The decision had been taken at the congress which lasted for four days and which ended with the election of Alexis Tsipras leader of the already united party. He received the votes of 74% of the delegates.

SYRIZA’s maturity from a coalition to a party was not easy. The debates during the congress were violent and there were moments of great tension as well. The final result of the vote for party leader in favour of Alexis Tsipras showed not only the support of the majority for him but also the presence of a dynamic minority. It is Panagiotis Lafazanis’ "Left Platform" whose members had preferred the white ballot and won 20.57% of the vote.

Alexis Tsipras defined the founding congress of SYRIZA as historic for the left wing and for democracy in general, adding that the 3,500 delegates "signed the birth of the new through an open democratic dialogue and clear decisions."

The bickering between the majority and its opponents on important political issues such as the sovereign debt of Greece, the party's position regarding the European currency, the euro area and the cooperation with other political parties had become an informal forum. For the first time in the history of the left wing, the delegates could openly oppose or support different views.

Despite the proposal of the party leadership, some of the constituent smaller parties had refused to dissolve. One of them was the party of veteran of Greek resistance Manolis Gletsos, who said out loud, "the others cannot decide for us." On the following day, however, he changed his statements by saying the he supported Alexis Tsipras’ proposals.

According to commentators on social media, the anger of Manolis Gletsos and Panagiotis Lafazanis may not be connected only to the process of decision-making within the party but also to the allocation of the state funding to the political parties. Sources say that in the period when SYRIZA did not win more than 3% of the vote, the group led by him received the sum of 150,000 euro per year. Others received 200,000 euro. "Maybe it is better to be acquainted with the contents of the contract on the allocation of state funding to the different groups in order for us to find out what has provoked the anger of Manolis Gletsos," reads one of the comments.

After the angry reaction, the leadership suggested that the groups be dissolved within three months. This had triggered a new round of tension as a result of which the limitation was corrected to the undefined "reasonable period of time."

According to the final decision, SYRIZA will operate on the principle of "one member - one vote" and no trend, movement or organization will have more privileges than members.

The amendments proposed by Panagiotis Lafazanis’ "Left Platform" were rejected during the debate. One of them was for the complete write-off of the Greek sovereign debt. The speech of Efklidis Tsakalotos, a lecturer in economics, proved crucial for the final decision on the issue. He said that the writing-off of the debt would not solve Greece's problems but a change in the pattern of the organization in the country would.

The other amendments were related to the return to the drachma, Greece’s exit from the euro zone, the nationalization of banks and to strategic industries. The banking sector strategy approved by the majority is that the sector should operate under the direct control of the state authorities.

At the same time, the latest poll shows that the difference between the major political opponents is below 1% in favour of New Democracy. Democratic Left records the greatest losses in terms of its influence over the voters.

The results for the parties are as follows: New Democracy - 29.1%, SYRIZA - 28.7%, Golden Dawn - 13.1%, PASOK - 7.3%, the Greek Communist Party - 5.5%, Independent Greeks - 5.4%, Democratic Left - 3.2% and Green environmentalists - 2.2%. 6.5% of respondents state that they are not sure for which party they would vote in the event of elections.

Tags: PoliticsSYRIZACongressAlexis Tsipras
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