Since Sunday, Syriza is a new and different party of the left, with a wider focus, less ideological and more political, ready to claim the government in Athens once again, bringing with it a rich background of experience and well-prepared leaders. The third Congress ended on Sunday in an atmosphere of enthusiasm and optimism among the more than 5,000 delegates, with Tsipras reiterating his certainty that the party would win the next elections “at any time”: “We have a project, there is an alternative, there is hope,” was the powerful message stressed by the leader of Syriza in his conclusions.
The debate with the internal left opposition, grouped mainly under the “Umbrella” current headed by Euclides Tsakalotos, which made up over 25% of the delegates to the Congress, took place in purely political terms, avoiding harsh words and personal attacks. In the end, this Congress did not elect the new party leadership. The confirmation of Tsipras to the presidency of Syriza is expected on May 15, when all members, not only delegates, will be able to vote to elect the 300 members of the Central Committee.
Some observers have pointed to the defeat of the old guard, the Syriza of a decade ago, when it struggled to reach the 3% threshold to get seats in Parliament. The urgency of bringing down the right-wing government was a constant motif in almost all the speeches, with moments of urgent alarm sounded by delegates from the provinces and smaller towns, abandoned to the arbitrary whims of sham entrepreneurs who are well connected with Prime Minister Mitsotakis, and are brutally exploiting the natural environment and destroying the local economy, even archaeological monuments.
The great determination to overthrow a disastrous oligarchic government as soon as possible has led to foreign policy issues being set aside, especially the disastrous war in Ukraine. This is a topic that Greeks look at with anxiety, while the Greek left sees it with a certain detachment.
At the discussion dedicated to the ongoing conflict, there were two dominant themes: harsh criticism of the Greek government, and especially of the Prime Minister, who rushed to send weapons to Kiev without notifying anyone and bypassing all legal procedures; and the difficulty of creating a strong movement in favor of peace, after the inspiring pacifist concert organized a few weeks ago in the center of Athens by some of the big names in Greek music. The pacifist mobilization must fight against the demagoguery of government-controlled TV stations, which sing NATO’s praises and absurdly conflate Putin’s Russia with the Soviet Union. The pacifist forces are having to fight an uphill battle to explain that the Russian invasion must indeed be condemned in severe terms, but at the same time we should not ignore the share in responsibility of NATO and the West.