The game’s afoot within SYRIZA and Nikos Pappas is the first to “fall”

The game's afoot within SYRIZA and Nikos Pappas is the first to fall,
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As SYRIZA returns to a path towards a conference after the quarantine, swords are being drawn. Opponents are taking their place for “the mother of all battles,” the battle that will determine the future of the party. The stakes are clear: how big and substantial will SYRIZA’s enlargement be?

The answer to this will dialectically determine its political identity (from the radical Left to Social Democracy). But it will also determine whether it remains a party vying for power, attempting to claim victory in the next election, as the dominant trend in its leadership wants, and of course the former members of PASOK within its ranks. Or, conversely, if it shrinks to a small but “honest” party of the radical Left.

A party that will be content with the extent of its influence and the offices that the system will give it to operate in its context, as an alibi, leaving the power game for other forces. While the position of the leadership, which moves SYRIZA and maintains it as a substntive political force, is a given, the framework from the internal opposition was laid out last Saturday, with an article in the newspaper Efimerida ton Syntakton (Newspaper of Editors), penned by Nikos Filis.

The intervention of a friend

The former minister says: “At the same time, the contemporary Left, and in particular SYRIZA-Progressive Alliance, is called upon to shape left-wing radicalism in response to right-wing radicalism. As an alternative political force, rejecting the pressures of the system to become part of bipartisan normality”.

He clarified that “the theory that a party should mutate, following the dominant stereotypes of some of its voters, refers to the degradation of politics to an affair of opinion polls and parties to invertebrate ideological schemes whose only concern is the distribution of power.” At the same time, Filis rejects the facilitation of members’ participation in party activities and internal party elections using digital media.

After reflecting on the government actions of SYRIZA, he concludes that “we need to pick up the thread of the Prespa Agreement, at a time when current foreign policy is deteriorating.” In other words, he proposes the continuation of the policy of the Macedonian issue, which not only brought defeat, but almost restored SYRIZA to a single digit percentage! And while the Mitsotakis government is facing problems with its concessions in Greek-Turkish relations, Filis is now proposing to get the government out of a tight spot, even though Mitsotakis took advantage of SYRIZA’s handling of the Macedonian issue.

The group of four

Inside the governing bodies, it is clear that a “group of four” has been formed: Nikos Voutsis, Nikos Filis, Panos Skourletis and Euclides Tsakalotos. The four appeared in a single platform on the Political Council, which decided on the roadmap for the conference. Their objections to a limited opening have not been approved, but the game is still open.

The last victim of the internal party controversy is the head of the presidential group and, so far, a close associate of Alexis Tsipras, Nikos Pappas. Pappas paid for his earlier disobedience during his contact with a controversial figure, businessman Sabby Mionis. Insiders claim that Antonis Samaras used the case in the context of the Pre-Investigation parliamentary committee to “burn” Tsipras’ closest associate.

The issue of Pappas was raised at a stormy meeting of the Political Council last Thursday. Tsakalotos appeared as a critic of the former Minister of Digital Policy (and indirectly of Tsipras). The former finance minister is taking a step back, wanting to express not only the group of “53”, but the overall and varied dissatisfaction with the leadership.

“We are paying for Pappas’ bull***t…”

Addressing Pappas, Tsakalotos forgot his Oxfordian manners saying: “We paid for this bull***t when we were in government”, clearly meaning Pappas’ failures in the management of the media and his contacts with businessmen. Pappas reacted strongly, saying he would not tolerate this, but was eventually forced to make a statement of apology. Tsipras said that “while of course there is no suspicion of money changing hands, nevertheless he should take responsibility.”

In short, no cover was given by the party president or the collective body. Pappas was given the coup de grace by the announcement of the Political Council. Politically, of course, he defends the party and its president, while blaming a mudslinging campaign, parastatal methods and the use of illicit wiretaping products by the government to distract from the failure of its economic policy. The last paragraph, however, is a blow for Pappas. It was added just in case. Indirectly, it puts him out of the spiritual unity and moral advantage of the Left.

As the paragraph notes: “What distinguishes the Left is its principles and values. Honesty and morality. Selflessness and solidarity. The moral advantage of the Left is obviously valid. Although this does not necessarily accompany anyone who declares himself a leftist, as a given seal. It is supported and highlighted, in every moment and in every action “. According to information, it was Tsakalotos who demanded that this point be entered, saying that otherwise he would not be a minister in the next SYRIZA government, whenever that happens.

Tsipras’ turn

While the “four” took a unified position in the previous meeting of the Political Council, for a limited opening of the party, in the recent Political Council concerning Pappas, the burden was shouldered only by Tsakalotos, who appears as the main rival for Tsipras. The presidential wing has lost its leader and is generally lagging behind in terms of party officials, despite its clear superiority over all party members and much more in terms of voters.

The “group of four” may not like it, but if Tsipras overcomes his emotions and moves in the direction of founding a new party leaning towards left-wing social democracy, Voutsis, Tsakalotos, Filis and Skourletis are doubtful whether they will garner LAE’s percentage (party formed by disenchanted former SYRIZA cadres) in the elections of September 2015. They will not enter Parliament, so they will lose the privileges of Members of Parliament, which of course they do not want to lose.

Until then, however, they are content with a superficial soft opposition, with an emphasis on minority issues, which is likely to reduce SYRIZA’s electoral impact. They are allowing the forces of neoliberalism and the hard right (in excellent cooperation within governing New Democracy) to determine the political landscape. However, only Tsipras can play the game inside SYRIZA, addressing the party base directly.

Everything will be judged at the conference

Of course, Dimitris Tzanakopoulos, Alexis Haritsis and Efi Ahtsioglou cannot stand up to the party’s old guard. Former PASOK members can win the game, as they have experience and are much closer to society, but there will be side effects. So far, however, Tsipras has shown that he is beginning to overcome his emotional entanglements.

He had no problem leaving Pappas uncovered, as well as Dimitris Papadimoulis in the real estate case. Of course, Pappas will remain by his side, but Papadimoulis will look for other alliances, although he will hardly find them in those who boast of the moral advantage of the Left. If the stakes start with enlargement and identity, the end result will be the organizational marking of evolution.

After the conference, of course, if Tsipras and those around him get the upper hand, nothing will be the same. In the next Parliament, few current SYRIZA MPs and MEPs will be around. Even fewer will be in the next SYRIZA government, whenever that happens. And because these things take time, the changes will start with the form of sector leadership and party organs …

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