Syriza left says: “We won’t vote for austerity”

Submitted by Matthew on 22 April, 2015 - 10:54 Author: Martin Thomas

On 24 April eurozone finance ministers meet again to discuss whether to release the remaining credits to Greece which were agreed under the last memorandum.

Greece made an outline deal on 20 February, but the eurozone ministers say they want more details before they release cash. In the run-up to 24 April, they are more hard-faced than ever. German finance minister Wolfgang Schäuble has said: “Nobody expects that there will be a solution”.

He indicated what way he wants Greece to go by saying: “The UK has done a very good job in the past few years and Osborne has a very good plan for the future” (17 April).

The business magazine Forbes (21 April) says that “Greek default [failure to make payments due on debt] is almost a certainty”, and eurozone leaders are stage-whispering that they’re confident about coping with Greece being forced out of the euro.

Even if there is a deal in the coming weeks to release the credits already agreed, negotiations have to start for fresh credits for future years.

Greece is due to pay €770 million to the IMF on 12 May, and other large payments follow in June and July.

It is conceivable that after all the sabre-rattling, the eurozone leaders will offer a deal which allows the Syriza-led government to offer a few reforms. It is possible that the Syriza leaders will conclude that they have no alternative but to refuse to make payments, impose capital controls, and face the risk of expulsion from the eurozone.

But the possibility that Syriza will capitulate and indefinitely postpone all their reform measures bar a few sops seems all-too-real. And meantime much of the great political capital that Syriza had after its election has been squandered.

The Syriza leaders are touring Europe to haggle with finance ministers, not to encourage demonstrations in solidarity.

Antonis Davanellos, a leader of DEA, a Trotskyist group within Syriza, says: “Everybody knows that if the agreement is an austerity agreement, we will not vote for it. We don’t accept that this means we will be expelled from Syriza.

“Our roots in Syriza are important. They are not as big and deep as we would like, and so, for the time being, our emphasis is on this.

“There is a lot of pressure on us. But at the same time, there is a lot of support in the population saying that Syriza is our hope, so stay strong.

“You know the old phrase of the Russian revolutionaries: Without a revolution in Germany, we are lost. I have heard something similar many times in Greece: ‘Without a victory for the left in Spain, we will lose.’ That’s a common feeling among ordinary people, not just people on the left.

“But the bigger problem is with France and Italy. For a century, the working class movement in Europe has been centred in France and Italy, but there, we don’t see the same prospects.

“We are asking for international solidarity and support from the left in Europe, but this isn’t just international solidarity. The fight is for yourselves, too - challenging austerity in your own country”.

If it comes to Greece being forced out of the euro, radical economic policies will become urgent. Within the eurozone, it is still possible to imagine the European Central Bank giving Greece more credit and the Syriza-led government being able to make social improvements by mild reforms.

Some left-wingers talk as if adopting the drachma instead of the euro would bring immediate improvements. It would not. It would bring rapid chaos unless the government moved fast to nationalise the banks and install wide-ranging workers’ control over the production and distributions of the necessities of life.

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