Open Letter to the MPs of Die Linke MPs - and to other the parties of the radical Left in Europe
Dimitris Belantis - Stathis Kouvelakis, Syriza Central Committee
We want to inform you and your parties aboout the content of the provisional agreement between the Greek government and the leadership of the Eurozone on February 20 2015 – or at least how we understand it. At the same time we want to give you a brief assessment of the content of the reform list sent by our Finance Minister Gianis Varoufakis to the Eurogroup.
Neither text corresponds to the main points of Syriza’s electoral program. What is even worse, they make it impossible to implement the main points of that program.
We will give you here only a few examples. Increasing the minimum wage to 750 euros [that is its 2009 level] cannot be in the short-term decided “unilaterally” by our Parliament. It can only be a long-term perspective, subject to the condition that it doesn’t harm the country's “competitiveness”.
The privatizations which are already completed will be left untouched. For those that are still underway, the process should be completed “respecting their legality”. No objection of principle to privatizations is be found at any point in the text.
Instead, the agreement asserts that the “modernization” of the social security system should be carried out, and we know that, as in the past, this kind of “modernization” actually means drastic cuts in welfare. Under the terms of the agreement, the control of the financing of the health system will be in the hands of foreign “institutions”, including the OECD. And one essential point of the electoral program of Syriza – namely tax relief for wage earners and tax exemption on annual incomes of less than twelve thousand euros – will be postponed for an indefinite period of time.
Almost no bill may pass in Parliament without prior consent of the Troïka, which has now been renamed as the "Institutions", and it can’t be introduced without measures compensating its financial cost.
This means that even the measures for the solution of the humanitarian crisis should be designed so as to entail no net budgetary impact.
We wish to stress that the extension of the financing agreement of 2012 for four months without complying to the Memoranda, and to all their legal implications, is politically and legally impossible. To separate the financing agreement from the Memoranda is simply impossible. This means that, in violation of the central commitment of Syriza’s to the Greek people, the Memoranda and the set of laws enforcing them will remain substantially in place.
Scepticism about, and rejection of, this new contract were expessed in a very clear way at the meeting of the parliamentary group of Syriza on Wednesday February 25. In an internal vote of the group, seventy members of the group voted in favour of the agreement, fourty MPs rejected it (against or ‘blank’ votes) and thirty MPs were not present in the room at that moment. The new President of the Parliament, Zoe Kostantopoulou and six ministers rejected the agreement. This weekend, a meeting of the Central Committee of SYRIZA will take place and decide on the agreement and the list of reforms submitted by the Greek government.
For us, it is clear that the ratification of this agreement by the European parliaments, with the consent of the parties of the radical Left, goes against the interest of the Greek workers and of the Greek people.
Solidarity between radical Left parties and formations in Europe and support for the Syriza government are necessary but they must be subject, in our view, to one decisive condition: that the policies of the Memoranda are abandoned and that neoliberalism is countered effectively and not only through neologisms and PR spin.
Given this situation, the question arises, what position should the MPs of the radical Left in the Bundestag and in other parliaments of Europe take where this agreement will be submitted? In our opinion, a “no” vote will help the Greek Left and in particular Syriza to realize its programme. Conversely, a "yes" can only create illusions and future disappointments.
Dimitris Belantis, Lawyer, member of Syriza’s Central Committee
Stathis Kouvelakis, Reader at King’s College London, member of Syriza’s Central Committee