Two sides of the same coin

Kathimerini English - - Front Page - BY AN­GE­LOS STAN­GOS

Re­cent days have seen a ten­dency to­ward for­giv­ing the sins of for­mer Energy Min­is­ter Panayi­o­tis Lafaza­nis and those who have joined or are about to join his newly formed SYRIZA splin­ter party, Public Unity. This ten­dency ap­pears to be driven by an en­emy-of-my-en­e­myis-my-friend men­tal­ity. Big­ger par­ties no doubt have an in­ter­est in see­ing SYRIZA lose some of its strength. That said, do­mes­tic pol­i­tics is largely in un­charted wa­ters at the mo­ment, also be­cause of the sum­mer lull. There are no re­li­able opin­ion polls and, in any case, we must not un­der­es­ti­mate the re­sound­ing “no” vote in July’s bailout ref­er­en­dum. The fact that Lafaza­nis and his aides were in the past mem­bers of Greece’s Com­mu­nist Party (KKE) is not nec­es­sar­ily sig­nif­i­cant. That has not pre­vented other politi­cians from re­con­sid­er­ing their views. The prob­lems with the Lafaza­nis folk is that they re­mained loyal to the Lenin­ist mantra and they played a key role in shap­ing SYRIZA into a neo-com­mu­nist party, in­flu­enc­ing the party’s found­ing prin­ci­ples, the de­ci­sions of the Cen­tral Com­mit­tee, and its Euroskep­tic rhetoric. The same peo­ple also backed pop­ulist protest move­ments – such as the “I Won’t Pay” group – and they now ex­tend­ing a hand to the so-called in­dig­nants of Syn­tagma Square. Lafaza­nis and his fol­low­ers liked to see them- selves as the soul of SYRIZA. And they were right. The in­fa­mous “Thes­sa­loniki Pro­gram,” SYRIZA’s anti-bailout man­i­festo, pretty much re­flected their ground­less views. They still ex­press the same views, only back then they were less hon­est about their in­ten­tion to guide the coun­try out of the euro sys­tem and away from the West. It was them who pushed for pro­drachma economist Costas La­pavit­sas to be in­cluded on the party ticket (a man who ad­mits that if Greece switched back to the drachma, things would be very hard for an in­def­i­nite pe­riod of time, be­fore they im­prove – one has to as­sume by means of the “al­ter­na­tive so­lu­tions” and “pro­duc­tive restruc­tur­ing” that Lafaza­nis has vaguely de­scribed. More strik­ing, the Lafaza­nis crowd had no qualms about work­ing with the pop­ulist na­tion­al­ist party of Panos Kam­menos, nor tak­ing an In­de­pen­dent Greeks MP into their party. Sim­i­larly they are now will­ing to work with Par­lia­ment Speaker Zoe Con­stantinopoulou in form­ing an anti-bailout party. They com­bine their Lenin­ism with a good dose of pop­ulism and na­tion­al­ism, although they are sup­pos­edly in­ter­na­tion­al­ists. To be sure, their be­hav­ior does not ab­solve Alexis Tsipras of his re­spon­si­bil­i­ties. They are the two sides of the same coin, which makes them un­sus­tain­able po­lit­i­cal cur­rency.

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