Greece’s left wing government began a new test last week as it returned from eurozone negotiations to face its supporters at home.
Radical left party Syriza was elected to end the austerity forced on Greece by its creditors. Yet faced with looming debt repayments and a bank run, it signed up to a four-month extension deal that keeps most of that austerity intact.
The government is trying to find ways of meeting some of its promises within the constraints of the agreement. And its support in the polls has surged after people saw it trying to take on the architects of austerity.
But there is emerging opposition to the deal—including inside Syriza. Some 41 percent of its central committee backed a motion from the Left Platform group rejecting the agreement.
Prime minister Alexis Tsipras was set to decide whether to put the agreement to a vote in parliament and risk a backbench rebellion as Socialist Worker went to press.
Thousands of supporters of the Communist Party rallied against the agreement last week. And up to 1,000 people braved a torrential thunderstorm for a rally called by anti-capitalist left coalition Antarsya.
Antarsya councillor Petros Constantinou told Socialist Worker, “We don’t recognise the debt, and we want a fight against the bankers’ blackmail.”
Teachers rallied outside their union leaders’ first meeting with the new minister on Thursday of last week.
Evangelia, a teacher sacked by the last government, told Workers Solidarity newspaper, “We’ve been on the streets fighting to get our jobs back for 20 months.
“The new government is taking back its promises and that’s a message for us to continue the fight.”
And 200 African migrants and anti-racists protested last Saturday in memory of Mohamed Kamara, who died after falling into a coma while in detention.
Syriza has promised to end the camps where thousands of migrants are detained in horrific conditions. An alarming reminder of the threat of fascism came as vandals defaced a monument to activist and rapper Pavlos Fyssas with Nazi graffiti.
Fyssas was murdered in 2013 by members of the fascist Golden Dawn party. Golden Dawn’s leadership is in jail awaiting trial.
But the president of parliament—equivalent to the speaker in Britain—tried to delay a vote so its MPs could take part.
Petros said, “This is a crucial moment for shaping the opposition. There are high expectations in the government. And it’s a time of preparation—lots of workers are holding assemblies to decide what they will do.
“It’s very important the anti-capitalist left raises demands that point to an alternative, a workers’ way out of the crisis.
“And we can’t allow the fascists any space to say that they are now the opposition.”
German left backs cuts
The German parliament endorsed the deal with Greece by an overwhelming majority on Friday of last week.
Even most of the left party Die Linke backed it in “solidarity” with Syriza. But Die Linke MPs Christine Buchholz, Inge Höger and Ulla Jelpke refused to back the deal
They argued, “With our no vote we want to strengthen the solidarity with Greece and opposition to cuts”