The following speech was presented by party leader Alexis Tsipras to the Syriza (Coalition of the Radical Left) first national congress on July 13, 2013. One of the major decisions to be made at the congress was the question of forming a single united left party from the many left organisations that to that point operated as part of the coalition. Click HERE for a report on the congress.
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Do you know what the message from the outside is? The message from an agonising and fighting society, with all the things that are going on in it?
The message is: get done or we’re done for.
We’re watching you, we’re waiting for you, but we’re running out of time.
We’re sinking; we’re drowning.
The message is: it’s now or never.
The message is not just political: SYRIZA or memoranda.
The message is: SYRIZA or humanitarian catastrophe.
Because those shameless appointees of the lenders, those executors of the memoranda implementation, they have no shame at all.
They have no respect or pity for anything or anybody.
They move with the ease of a gangster from their success story and their supposedly benevolent action to the elimination of entire social groups.
Because that’s what the troika commands.
So every hour, every day that goes by, the steamroller of the Samaras-Venizelos government bulldozes more people, more rights.
Every hour, every day, the demand for a powerful, efficient, militant SYRIZA is becoming more and more imperative.
Did you see what happened with the multi-bill that attempts to legalise one more atrocity – or rather a plethora of atrocities – and wipes out people who are not oath breakers, who are not lazy, who were not improperly appointed?
They just happened to belong in the category of the “proscribed” – in municipal police, in municipal government, in education.
And many others are awaiting their turn.
And why have they been proscribed?
So that the number of the “executed” is completed, as the lenders demand.
That’s the provision of the multi-bill that the relevant Parliament Committee passed, indifferent of the dramas it causes.
This multi-bill is the reason why municipal governments, mayors and municipal employees are taking to the streets and are fighting to defend the fundamentals – independence of the local governments and the bread of their children.
Once more, I am taking the opportunity to salute their struggle and declare that we are and will be with them till the end – till the final victory.
Till the overthrow of this dangerous – to the people – government of the memoranda.
Their struggle, as well as the struggle of the employees of ERT [the state-owned National Radio-Television suddenly shut down by the government], is part of a wider uncompromising struggle for the defence of democracy and social cohesion.
We will be together in their struggle till the end; militantly, peacefully, unwaveringly.
At the same time we see the coup d’état in ERT being completed through a series of other mini-coups.
What started as an illegal and unconstitutional legislative act is followed up by new illegalities.
With a pirate signal broadcast and sloppily made programs of low quality broadcast from a private studio.
And with the ridiculous absurdity – the barbarity of the extreme right is always somehow ridiculous and absurd – of hastily naming their monstrosity first Greek Public Television, then just Public Television, whose initials in Greek are reminiscent of the Greek initials of IMF!
Let us note though:
The ERT employees’ struggle has been going on for over a month. And this struggle, together with the solidarity movement that has developed, has changed the political momentum.
It highlighted the disposition of the Greek people to fight not only for “bread and education” (an old slogan of the students’ fight against the junta) but also for freedom and democracy. It underlined the people’s good chance of winning, since this movement brought down the three-party government.
The new government that was formed after DIMAR’s (Democratic Left) withdrawal is worse than the previous one.
And has even worse things to do, even worse lies to tell, throw society into an even worse downward spiral, and drag Greece into an even worse fate.
Looking at their doings even in the last few days, you can easily draw the conclusion:
This government has come – and is supported by the lenders and Mrs. Merkel – in order to complete the disaster.
In fact, it has no plan whatsoever – it just improvises to satisfy the Troika.
Mr. Kyriakos Mitsotakis (the newly appointed Minister of Administrative Reform), for instance, stated to a big foreign newspaper that he can’t sleep at night because he has to sign off on people losing their jobs.
Like Olli Rehn once told us that we ruin his weekends, as he can’t play football and has to deal with Greek issues instead.
Mr. Hadjidakis, who is drawing up a law to keep shops open all Sundays, is wondering why people are protesting about this and not about Sunday afternoons!
Mrs. Bakoyannis has stated that she is saddened by the provisions of the multi-bill, but nevertheless she assured that she will vote for it as Greece is in a very tight spot.
Mr. Samaras states that he is almost happy we are doing so well and that in 2014 we will be coming out on the avenue of growth.
And Mr. Venizelos, in such times of austerity, with a special amendment to the multi-bill that is destroying people’s lives, demands to be able to travel on the Prime Minister’s aircraft.
Once more, I would like to address the democratic people that pinned their hopes and expectations on PASOK and fought for change:
Does this New Democracy’s component called PASOK have anything to do with 3rd September (PASOK was founded by Andreas Papandreou on 3-9-1974) and PASOK that promised change, national independence, and social justice?
Does Samaras’ Vice-President have anything to do with even the ghost of the so-called centre-left?
Does this party’s policy have anything to do with what it promised and committed itself to?
But this is no time for weeping over lost glories; it is time for action, fight and resistance, before the country is totally and irreversibly destroyed.
And this SYRIZA’s call for fight is addressed to each and every one.
To all the people of the Left – whichever party they belong to – who in their life and action are driven by the ideals of democracy, social justice, and socialism.
To all democrats and patriots, all those who still believe that democracy is the quintessence of a society of civilisation and solidarity.
To all those who put freedom and national sovereignty before calculation and self-interest.
To intellectuals, to people of the arts and letters, who see Greece of civilisation being pulled down and dragged to the slave markets of the lenders.
To the young who believe that they can change the world – this is what we believe, too.
Even to those conservative citizens who today feel offended by the racist propaganda against Greece, by Merkel’s gestures, and by the troika’s humiliating drills against our country.
We are saying that it is about time that democratic sensibility, national alertness, love for our country and for freedom, the wish to get rid of memoranda and “protectors”, the vision of a free and democratic Greece that doesn’t throw away any of her children, united the vast majority of our people.
In an uncompromising struggle against authoritarianism, repression, constitution violations, and “black”. (Like the black screens of the suspended national broadcaster.)
In a fight for the salvation and reconstruction of a Greece delivered from vested interests, intransparency, scams, bribery, cronyism, the everyday barbarity of neoliberalism.
That considers an enemy and treats as an enemy democracy and any citizen who guards its Thermopylae.
This is our call, comrades.
And all the discussions, the proposals, the disagreements, the controversies in our convention concern this aim.
How to make SYRIZA more sound, more efficient, more ready to govern and lead this country step by step out of this morass of destruction.
That’s what lies behind the discussion about SYRIZA’s transformation, about its revival as a single party, about the role of the party member, about securing the party’s internal democracy.
There have been a lot of opinions, viewpoints, remarks, proposals.
This is a real wealth for our party.
Even disagreement is a wealth.
Because we are not and do not want to be a party of political instructors, or of professors of power; a party with big mouth but small ears.
We listen, listen, and listen to each other and know how to synthesise and move on.
As the welfare state is collapsing, thousands of people are getting self-organised creating hundreds of social solidarity structures across Greece.
So that no-one is left alone in the crisis. With no exclusion. For everybody.
This is a people’s collective reaction and EAM (National Liberation Front) comes back to collective memory. EAM that saved the country from starvation and organised the epic of National Resistance.
Today, comrades from Portugal, Italy, Spain, Germany, Austria, and England are coming here trying to comprehend this great self-managed movement.
Social solidarity structures constitute fields of social support, of collective consciousness development, and of political activation.
SYRIZA got soon involved in these movements
Mainly with our members’ participation
With the Mutual Help Fund that the party founded and which is funded by the 20% of our MPs’ remuneration.
With campaigns in European countries, which today are bearing political, social, and financial fruit.
So, what do we need to do as SYRIZA? We need to take a further step in solidarity.
– To help all these structures with large campaigns and money as people’s needs seem to increase dramatically.
– To politically defend the No Intermediaries Movement
There is a need for the combination of health structures with trade unions in Health and for penetration of solidarity structures into hospitals.
To build a movement against foreclosures and evictions.
This requires activation of all the involved sections and sectors of SYRIZA.
People are not only mobilised by political discourse but also by social and political action.
Don’t underestimate that.
Ardently strengthen the solidarity structures, take part in this great venture of our people; in this great historical process, fundamental prop and guarantee for a future Left government, for a great social transformation – for solidarity, resistance, subversion.
Don’t forget: tomorrow our party initiates a new course that will confront the existing balance of power and collide head-on with the Memoranda.
We are starting on a difficult road.
In front of us is a determined opponent.
An opponent prepared to fight to the very end.
Because if they lose, they lose everything: vested interests, privileges, access to power.
This opponent will be in our way, ready to take advantage of any slip of ours, any mistake of ours, any pretext we give.
They will use any foul means there are in order to harm us.
We are coming to the foreground in order to trigger huge changes and subversions.
Not only in Greece, but in the whole of Europe.
Be certain that no-one will do us any favours.
Neither our enemies nor our friends.
These latter ones will be our harshest judges.
Now that the eyes of society are on us, we must prove that we are able to do what we are saying.
That we are able to govern.
And this will be decided by the outcome of this Convention, as well.
Whether we know, we want and we can.
And whether we are able not only to come out of here united, but also to make all our hammers bang in unison.
At this point, I would like to clarify and correct certain misconceptions, intentional or unintentional.
First of all,
I heard the sound argument: ‘How can you possibly decide for us? What gives you the right?’
And here I want to correct this misconception.
No one wants or has chosen to decide for others. Heavens forbid!
But for SYRIZA – our common home, the new unified democratic actor of its members – it is up to our Convention of 3500 elected representatives of our thousands of members to decide.
The Convention – and only the Convention – will decide.
And whatever the Convention decides will be accepted by all.
Anything else would be an insult to the thousands of our members who took part in the pre-convention procedures.
It would be an insult to the sovereign body of the Convention, which decides on everything.