The Prespa “heritage” and the multiple challenges for SYRIZA in 2020

The Prespa “heritage” and the multiple challenges for SYRIZA in 2020

2019 was proven to be a breakthrough year for SYRIZA. After four years of a stormy governance, with ongoing negotiations, tough compromises and important interventions to support the weak and the labor force, the year we bid farewell to was the first in the post-Memorandum era for Greece, from 2010 onwards.

However, 2019 was marked by the ratification of the historic Prespa Agreement. On January 25, Alexis Tsipras’ government brought the agreement to Parliament and passed it. This decision, however, brought significant political developments in Greece.

On one hand, the outcome sealed SYRIZA’s political divorce with the right-wing ANEL party of Panos Kammenos. This constituted a coalition built on the need to get the country out of the memoranda, without any further ideological and political points of agreement, which, after the completion of the programs, engendered more problems than solutions for Al. Tsipras.

Meanwhile, the end of this co-operation combined with the Prespa Agreement initiative triggered intense mobility in the wider progressive space and in the center-left. This led to the formation of the Progressive Alliance, namely the cooperation of SYRIZA with personalities and movements coming from PASOK and the ​​social-democratic territory. These developments intensified the processes for the set-up of a progressive front with an alternative governance program, without the compulsory elements imposed by the memoranda.

However, the four years of implementing memorandum policies, despite the progressive “counterweights”, alongside the fact that a significant portion of the population disagreed with the Prespa Agreement – reinforced by a populist New Democracy rhetoric – led to SYRIZA’s defeat in the subsequent elections. The harshest defeats were those in the European and regional elections.

Although Kyriakos Mitsotakis managed to win the July national elections and indeed with a large-majority, SYRIZA avoided the crash, the “strategic defeat” that the New Democracy sought. By gaining 32% of the votes, the party managed to become the undisputed political pillar of progressiveness in Greece.

Thus, on the eve of the elections, Alexis Tsipras spoke of a “transformation mandate” for SYRIZA and the Progressive Alliance, but also of an institutional and dynamic main opposition against a hard-right government. In this context, the processes in SYRIZA revolved around the target of creating a single party that would include all its allies up until today in the field of social democracy and ecology.

2020 will be a milestone for SYRIZA. A party congress is scheduled in May to mark the transition to the new era. In any case, the birth of the new party will not be painless, with concerns, some more intense than other, having already been voiced.

More and more voices inside SYRIZA and the youth of the party are sounding the alarm of SYRIZA turning into a center party instead of a left one, while there are objections to the participation of PASOK and KINAL.

However, Alexis Tsipras is expected to provide answers to many crucial questions at the same time. What will be the identity of SYRIZA of the “new era”? Will it stay in its leftist postures and traditions or will it move to the center, clashing with both its historical executives and a portion of its traditional electoral base?

Furthermore, will it succeed from the post of the main opposition to prevent the implementation of hard-right policies and defend the conquests of its own governance? And of course, although no one openly talks about it, SYRIZA will be called upon to be prepared for early elections, both in terms of its political program as well as in terms of its organizational readiness. /ibna