Greece: New situation for left after split at Synaspismos conference

Below we publish a statement (translated and slightly edited) by Xekinima (CWI Greece) regarding a split that took place last weekend during the Synaspismos (SYN) party congress (4-5-6 June).

SYN is the main party inside Syriza, a left alliance, in which Xekinima (CWI Greece) also participates.

A percentage close to 20% of the 1,350 delegates to the SYN extraordinary party congress called for SYN to leave the left wing alliance, Syriza, which they criticised as having ‘too much left radicalism’. This minority in an atmosphere of extreme polarization refused to take part in the congress elections and in the leading bodies of the party and then left the congress.

This represents a right wing split from SYN. The ‘modernisers’ (as they call themselves) who departed want to move closer to Pasok, the government party, and a former workers’ party calling itself “socialist”, which is overseeing enormous social cuts and attacks on the living standards of working people and their families.

Synaspismos conference: Right wing split in Synaspismos creates a new situation for the left in Greece

Xekinima Statement

The splitting off of the largest section of the “Renewal Wing” at last week’s (4-5-6th June) Synaspismos conference constitutes the most important development of the Synaspismos emergency conference.

This development was foreseeable. Xekinima has argued for years that the existing differences within Synaspismos would, sooner or later, lead to a split. It is no coincidence that this split comes at a moment of heightened class struggle, as a result of the deep crisis that is shaking up Greek society. In such conditions the ground for generalizations and compromises between the rightwing and the left of the party vanishes.

The main criticism that Xekinima waged against the left majority that dominated the Synaspismos leadership in the whole of the past period was the fact that they watered down their programme in the name of unity, ie compromise with the “Renewal Wing”. This turned out to be –as Xekinima always predicted- a huge obstacle in the development of Syriza. The compromising within Synaspismos was reflected in the positions taken by Syriza and as a result Syriza was not able to respond to the demands for a radical left programme that is so desperately needed in the conditions of the crisis-ridden capitalist system.

Synaspismos now, free from the constraints of the past, has a historic opportunity to move decisively to the left. It needs to respond to the demands of the time and to play an important role in the workers’ movements, providing a perspective of resistance and struggle not only within Greece but also on a European level (as with the planned week of action between 21 and 26th of June). This way it can revitalise Syriza.

However the split-off of the “Renewal Wing” does not automatically mean that Synaspismos will be transformed into a more radical left party. It is a matter of the political will of the current leadership, the new majority that won the party’s conference. Syriza supporters will be watching the latest developments with regained hope and new expectations and will wait and follow the next steps to be taken by the Synaspismos leadership.

It would be, in our opinion, counterproductive, not to say completely catastrophic if the creation of the ‘Platform 2010’ (the new name for the leftovers of the Renewal Wing inside the party) was to become an excuse by the Synaspismos leadership to continue along the path of compromise, which would offer the movement nothing more than a hazy and vague programme.

This would be the recipe for the continuation of the crisis within Syriza. And it would lead in the end to a split and the collapse of the most important uniting initiative the Greek left has seen in its recent history.

Syriza now has a very important opportunity in front of it. It can leave behind its past apolitical and personal clashes for the leadership and adopt a new, clearly left wing programme that will allow it to become, once again, a magnet for the movement and for the left, as a whole.

Xekinima, 8 June 2010

Translated by Alex Gounelas, Socialist Party (CWI England & Wales)

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June 2010