The Greek government this week passed measures slashing thousands of public sector jobs. Argiris Panagopoulos, correspondent of Il Manifesto newspaper interviewed Panos Lamprou, a leading member of the opposition Syriza party, on this latest round of Troika-inspired austerity, dubbed a ‘mini-memorandum’. Lamprou, a member of the Secretariat to SYRIZA’s Central Committee, also talks about alternative policies days after the party transformed itself from a coalition into a united party.
The so-called “Mini Memorandum” was passed in the Greek parliament with a narrow majority …
We have a government with a slim majority in parliament. They have at most 155 MPs out of 300. At the same time these New Democracy and Pasok MPs are united in their determination to pursue the destruction and annihilation of our society. One hundred and fifty three MPs voted in favour of the “Mini Memorandum» and they would be ready to vote anything else that the government and the troika demands. SYRIZA, as we stated during its Congress which ended last Sunday, will do everything possible against the policies of the Memorandum. We want elections and an immediate change in policies to put an end to all injustice in recent years. We have pledged that in government we would ensure all state employees that have been laid off or the government wants to dismiss will get their jobs back. At the same time we demand justice for the closure of public television and the issue of tax evaders on the Lagardere List.
Is this not just a populist election promise?
It is not a populist proposal, but a proposal for survival, to save our society and our people. There cannot be a society with a real cohesion when there are more unemployed than people working. Job creation is one of the fundamental objectives of SYRIZA. We need to ensure that families have an income. Today there are entire families without a single euro.
Today you want to challenge the government of Samaras and that of Germany, given the visit of the German economy minister to Athens …
The militarization of Athens, and especially its center, is unacceptable. SYRIZA and the other left parties, trade unions, associations, collectives and other movements will together break all bans, and soon we will be at Klathmonos square to await Wolfgang Schäuble. The German finance minister is persona non grata. He’s not just here to control Samaras. He is here to do business in Greece, a few days after the European Commission defended Siemens which is faced with corruption allegations.
What does SYRIZA want?
We want another model of government with a substantial communication between the people and the [social] movements. Our conference chose as its watchword: “A Strong SYRIZA – A Self-Sufficient People.” SYRIZA aims to win the election to govern. Can we secure a self-sufficient majority? It is a challenge. But even if SYRIZA obtains an absolute majority, it will convene other left forces to govern together. There is no absolute truth and solutions on the left….
Do you also anticipate electoral coalitions?
I do not think that there are opportunities for pre-election agreements. We have said that we cannot work together before elections with those who supported or participated in the implementation of the austerity policies. However, we must be able to cultivate among our people the idea that the left can govern united. We have to work hard to change our political culture. A united left is much, much more than a sole political party can be, however big it is. SYRIZA is intransigent with the Troika and the Memorandum, but completely open to working with the forces of the left.
Translation by Revolting Europe