For many observers the praise of Euclid Tsakalotos from German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble, lenders, and European officials would be a sign that the economy is finally on the right track.
But for the left-wing internal opposition of Syriza, the so-called 53+, who once tacitly viewed the minister who has the wont of calling himself a “left-wing person” as their leader, Tsakalotos’ complete alignment with and faithful implementation of the demands of creditors is a red flag, a turn that has done irreparable harm to his self-proclaimed left-wing image.
For his critics, the sight of Tsakalotos this week jubilantly striking the bell of the New York Stock Exchange, the Mecca of capitalism, with a gavel, epitomised the Ovidian transformation of a left-wing person turned pro-market realist, which in turn, reflects the transformation of the Syriza party itself.
According to the «Vimatodotis» (literally, pacemaker) column in To Vima, members of the 53+ movement say that the finance minister cannot with the one hand sign bailout memorandums and ring the bell in the “nest of capitalism”, and on the other portray the resistance fighter against memorandum austerity.
Thodoris Dritsas, Theano Fotiou, and Alexis Haratsis are the only 53+ members in the government.
But it is Nikos Filis, the former education minister and ex-editor of the historic left-wing newspaper Avgi, a party organ, to whom many in the movement look in burnishing their leftist credentials.
He has made a series of public remarks recently that have been critical of the government, and his positions invariably attract intense media attention.
His most recent criticism came in an impassioned speech to parliament against the government’s sale of munitions to Saudi Arabia, which has been proven to have a critical role in the slaughter of civilians in Yemen.
Filis invoked the humanitarian aspect to call for immediate cancellation of the deal, thus disentangling the government somewhat from what could prove to be a major scandal.
Figures such as Filis and Energy Minister Panos Skourletis have undertaken the thankless role of preserving the last shreds of their party’s left-wing credentials, and party observers expect that their public urgings for a more left-wing, progressive government policy will mount, as the wrath of overtaxed citizens grows and the country heads toward general elections, quite possibly next year.