The national address delivered yesterday from Ithaca by PM Alexis Tsipras on the occasion of the bailout exit, signaled the return of the divisive and civil war-style slogan: ‘We will finish them off or they will finish us off’.
The strategy that has been threshed out over the last weeks in the PM’s office bears the imprimatur of specific associates of Alexis Tsipras. They are the head of the prime minister’s press office, Thanasis Karteros, and the editor-in-chief of the SYRIZA-linked newspaper Avgi, Angelos Tsekeris, who has previously worked in the PM’s office.
The politics of hatred is being disseminated by specific government members and party cadres, such as SYRIZA’s parliamentary representative Nikos Xydakis, who this week attacked New Democracy vehemently.
Xydakis attacked those whom he described as the opponents of the “progressive rebirth of Greece”, “the archpriests of corruption and bankruptcy who rabidly pursue a vindictive restoration”.
He said that many of the above are “self-confessed enemies of democracy”. “They are the appointed hacks of the late dictator [Georgios] Papadopoulos, open lovers of authoritarianism, and fellow travelers of the National Socialists.
Asked by the state-run Athens New Agency’s radio station about whom he was referring to with the phrases “the archpriests of corruption and bankruptcy”, and “the appointed hacks of the late dictator [Georgios] Papadopoulos”, Xydakis said, “They are in the ranks of the Right and of right-wing conservative forces, and they were incorporated in New Democracy. We all know who they are. Their names are of no significance because they are people – and ideologies, and behaviours – who throughout their past and before joining New Democracy maintained the political stance of an extreme-right nightmare, and unfortunately the conservative party, New Democracy, has been infected by a mixture of Le Penism, Orbanism, and the entire Civil War, post-Civil War and dictatorial past of post-war Greece.”
This statement coincided roughly with a statement by the government’s vice-president, Yannis Dragasakis, to the daily Efimerida ton Syntakton, in which he called for broader political alliances.
“The end of the memorandums constitutes a new starting point for a grand social alliance, for a progressive mobilisation, in order to block the path of the extreme right and of a conservative restoration, and to proceed with the necessary great changes in Greece and Europe,” Dragasakis said.
Left and Extreme Right
Digital Policy Minister Nikos Pappas drew a dividing line between the progressive forces that he said SYRIZA represents and the forces of conservatism. Pappas noted that, “Society needs a continuation and deepening of great, progressive reforms in the functioning of democracy. It needs regulation of the television and radio environment, a ceaseless battle against vested interests and corruption, and a constitutional revision. These great changes and progressive policies must be carried out by the country’s progressive forces.”
Yesterday’s banner headline of the SYRIZA-linked daily Avgi, “The Left can”, is building on the return of divisive rhetoric and hardline politics that are attempting to split Greece in two.
The secretary of SYRIZA’s Executive Committee, Panos Rigas, said that, “The creation of a grand social alliance that will block the plans of the Right is necessary, and SYRIZA is working systematically to that end.”
“In this period, everyone must take a stand so that we can see who will support progressive policies and progressive forces that implement them, and who will remain devoted to neo-liberalism and New Democracy,” SYRIZA party spokesperson Rania Svigou said.
SYRIZA MEP Dimitris Papadimoulis said that, “We must seek – in opposition to the wave of hatred exuded by New Democracy – the terms of a broader national understanding regarding the launch of a serious political dialogue.”
That agreed upon political line was apparent in the attacks on journalists and publishing groups, and even in the decision to prohibit photographers that are not to the liking of the government from taking pictures during the PM’s address on the bailout exit.
The strategy was presented very clearly by the prime minister himself, who from Ithaca drew the dividing line between “us and them”.
The pre-electoral campaign has begun, and by all accounts it will be the most polarised in recent years. Alexis Tsipras struck where the entire counter-attack of SYRIZA and the Independent Greeks will be focused – on political opponents, mainly from New Democracy, on central bankers, such as Lucas Papademos (the ex-PM and former ECB vice-president) and Yannis Stournaras (the current Bank of Greece governor), and of course the media that criticise the government.
The prime minister’s frontal attack will escalate with references to vested interests and threats of judicial probes against everyone.
The devious draft legislation with which the justice ministry is attempting to control judges who will be promoted to positions of responsibility shows that there is a more general effort to manipulate the judiciary, with the aim of checking cases that SYRIZA would like to bring to light before the elections.
The decision to create civil war-type conditions, at a time that the country needs political and economic normalcy, show that Alexis Tsipras and his junior coalition partner Panos Kammenos will wage the battle for political survival with all means, until the end.
They know that a trouncing in the next elections will obliterate them from the political map and leave them accountable for the acts of the last three years.