This meeting has been awaited with great suspense. The Left Platform and other critics within the party had been demanding such a gathering for weeks.
The debate revolved around the demand to convoke a party congress before signing a new bailout package with the representatives of the Troika, or whether to wait for September, as Tsipras proposes.
The Left Platform and other internal opposition groups proposed an ordinary congress in the coming days, made up of the delegates elected for the founding congress in 2013, which would favor the opposition. Tsipras in contrast proposed an emergency congress in September, after the bailout has been approved, with new delegates based on more moderate party members.
Having not reached an agreement after hours of debate, Tsipras proposed to hold a referendum next Sunday to consult Syriza members, in order to circumvent the party’s leadership bodies.
During his speech at the Central Committee, Tsipras asked what Syriza’s strategy should be after losing it’s parliamentary majority, given the “blockade” by dissenting members of parliament who voted against the austerity measures. Tsipras noted it was “absurd” to have two opposing factions within the same parliamentary group.
On Wednesday, Tsipras underlined in a radio interview that even if he would prefer not to hold early elections, he would be forced to if he lacked a parliamentary majority. Referring to lawmakers who hadn’t supported the “third memorandum”, Tsipras also stated, “You cannot vote against the government’s proposals and say you support the government; this is surreal.” And he added that the victory of the “NO” in the July 5 referendum had been misinterpreted and was never a mandate for abandoning the Euro.
In an unending session with more than 90 interventions, memebers of the Left Platform responded to the prime minister.
“How many referenda are we going to hold? We’ve already done one, and we won with 62 per cent of the vote”, said Panagiotis Lafazanis, the Platform’s leader. He added, “This country no long has democracy, but a peculiar type of totalitarianism — a dictatorship of the euro.”
The President of the Greek Parliament, Zoe Konstantopoulou (who also voted against third memorandum), questioned the party leadership and said, “SYRIZA did not get the people’s mandate to shackle the country with a bailout memorandum.” She added, “Protecting the Constitution is not surrealism,” paraphrasing Tsipras’ words.
During the session, 17 members of the Central Committee resigned, claiming they had profound ideological differences with party’s current orientation. All of them belong to the Maoist current KOE within SYRIZA.
Finally, after hours of rhetorical confrontations, Tsipras won the vote and the meeting accepted his proposal of holding the congress in September. He played the “card” of threatening to let the government fall.
“Anyone who wants a different government or a different premier should say so,” said Mr. Tsipras. “Those who believe this is the worst memorandum of all should say so now.”
With this “squeeze” of the Central Committee, he was able to divide the “circumstantial majority” that had emerged in the previous weeks on the basis of rejection of the memorandum. The Left Platform had converged with a centrist faction of the party, known as the “group of 53”, the majority of whom now voted with Tsipras.
The Left Platform left the meeting defeated. Their main goal in the previous weeks had been to convoke a Central Committee meeting, where they hoped to win the vote against Tsipras. They demanded a change in the government’s policy, breaking with the Troika and implementing a “Plan B” to exit from the Eurozone and “recuperate the spirit” of Syriza.
The Left Platform’s strategy to pressure Tsipras, based on parliamentarianism and opposed to the class struggle, has been revealed as completely impotent. Despite its criticism, this “left-wing” remains being part of the government and of Syriza, a government of class collaboration that openly betrayed the people’s will, in order to accept the agenda imposed by the Troika… and is ready to impose that agenda with repression, as shown by the penalties given to the demonstrators who were arrested on last July 15.
Next Sunday there will be no referendum, and Syriza won’t hold its next Congress until September, after the third memorandum has been completed. In the coming weeks, during the summer break, the conditions for a third bailout will be negotiated. The reorganization of the working class and the fighting sectors who are independent of the government in order to resist the new austerity measures of the Troika is an urgent task.