In The Guardian, economist and former Syriza MP Costas Lapavitsas laments the current state of his erstwhile party, which he says has transformed from radical opponents of austerity to its ruthless implementers. An excerpt:
A year ago the Syriza leadership was convinced that if it rejected a new bailout, European lenders would buckle in the face of generalised financial and political unrest. The risks to the eurozone were, they presumed, greater than the risks to Greece. If Syriza negotiated hard, it would be offered an “honourable compromise” relaxing austerity and lightening the national debt. The mastermind of this strategy was Varoufakis, but it was avidly adopted by Tsipras and most of Syriza’s leadership.
Well-meaning critics repeatedly pointed out that the euro had a rigid set of institutions with their own internal logic that would simply reject demands to abandon austerity and write off debt. Moreover, the European Central Bank stood ready to restrict the provision of liquidity to the Greek banks, throttling the economy – and the Syriza government with it. Greece could not negotiate effectively without an alternative plan, including the possibility of exiting the monetary union, since creating its own liquidity was the only way to avoid the headlock of the ECB. That would be far from easy, of course, but at least it would have offered the option of standing up to the catastrophic bailout strategies of the lenders. Unfortunately, the Syriza leadership would have none of it.
The response by EU politicians to Syriza was bewilderment, frustration and escalating hostility.
The disastrous nature of the Syriza strategy became clear as early as 20 February 2015. European politicians forced the new Greek government to agree to target budget surpluses, implement “reforms”, meet all debt obligations fully and desist from using existing bailout funds for any purpose other than supporting banks. The EU calmly turned off the liquidity tap at the European Central Bank, and refused to give a penny of additional financial support until Greece complied.