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“Tsipras Told Me Only a Government of National Unity or a Dictatorship Can Save Greece,” Claims Former House Speaker

zoe-konstantopoulou1Greece’s former house speaker Zoe Konstantopoulou posted an article on her website titled “Who’s Afraid of the Truth” that deserves to be read and widely discussed. It sheds a critical light on the inside story of Syriza’s capitulation – or why Alexis Tsipras failed to pursue the right government policies after the January 2015 election.
Zoe Konstantopoulou wrote the article in response to an interview by her successor, the new speaker of the house Nikos Voutsis, in the Greek Sunday newspaper Kathimerini, which was published on January 31, 2016.
In this interview, Nikos Voutsis engages in personal attacks against Konstantopoulou and offers his own explanation of what happened with Syriza’s abandonment of its pre-election campaign pledges, which, alas, is full of inconsistencies and distortions. As such, the former Speaker of the Hellenic Republic had a double reason to provide a response to her successor’s appallingly sycophantic attacks and to counter his historical distortions.
In his interview, Nikos Voutsis paints a portrait of Zoe Konstantopoulou not as a former comrade in a common struggle against EU/IMF prescribed austerity and Greece’s conversion into an EU protectorate, but of a raving woman who was bent on insulting the nation’s institutions and its political figures, including the current President of Greece Prokopis Pavlopoulos.
While it is true that Zoe Konstantopoulou had a reputation of being an extremely tough and demanding speaker of the house, what annoyed many inside the Greek parliament was her insistence on rules and procedures and the fact that she actually took her duties very seriously. It was not uncommon for her to keep meetings going way past midnight if the issues that committee members had to address were not being thoroughly addressed.
The charges of a raving woman in charge of the Greek parliament were widely made during Konstantopoulou’s tenure as house speaker and it is shocking to see her successor and former comrade Nikos Voutsis engage in character assassination tactics against her.
Zoe Konstanopoulou opts not to dwell into Voutsi’s attacks against her personality, but focuses her response entirely on political matters.
For starters, Voutsis claims in his interview to Kathimerini that Konstantopoulou was in agreement with the government’s line. In her article, the former house speaker refutes this claim by going to great lengths to point out that she, like many others around Tsipras, including Syriza’s own parliamentary team, were never even informed of what was the official government line and provides plenty of examples where she was in clear disagreement with the Prime Minister over a number of issues.
Konstantopoulou’s version on how Alexis Tsipras and his inner circle functioned and made policy, i.e.., in secrecy and with total disregard for democratic procedures, has been corroborated by many others who at one point or another were part of the Syriza political organization.
Konstantopoulou’s version of what happened is that Tsipras basically betrayed his party’s vision and his comrades, just so he can remain in power.
This is, again, an interpretation of what happened to Syriza that has been advanced by many other former party members and fellow travelers, including Greek Left’s veterans Mikis Theodorakis and Manolis Glezos.
This is also a claim made by none other than former Greek finance Minister, the flamboyant Yanis Varoufakis, who was neither a Syriza member nor a radical leftist.
One of the most interesting revelations in Zoe Konstantopoulou’s article is the discussions she says to have had with Alexis Tsipras over the meaning of the referendum of July 5, 2015, in which over 63% of the Greek population said “No” to austerity.
According to Konstantopoulou, the Prime Minister maintained that he had no option but to agree to a new bailout plan, in spite of having received a popular mandate against doing so, as “only a government of national unity or a dictatorship” can salvage the situation in Greece.
She claims that Alexis Tsipras and his inner circle also knew that the “Thessaloniki program” they had promised to the Greek people in the event of a Syriza election victory was just hot air. They were promises made to win the elections but without a chance of being turned into actual policy.
History has shown us that all too often political opportunists rose to power under the pretext of promoting economic changes that would empower the poor, protect the weak and vulnerable, and liberate an entire country from the shackles of domestic and foreign exploitation only to become the new masters of the same old order in no time. And the Left is no exception in Greece.
Indeed, as the former house speaker of the Greek Parliament makes clear in her article, the latest example of political betrayal in the annals of the False Left is to be found in the country that has suffered the most since the eruption of the global financial crisis of 2008, which is none other than Greece – a weak, peripheral nation in the European economy run up until very recently by kleptocratic political organizations and confronted by a myriad of problems of its own making, including massive tax evasion by the rich, the professional class (doctors, lawyers, etc) and the self-employed workers and a corrupt “exchange system” that penetrated every aspect of the public administration system.
Syriza’s capitulation to Greece’s creditors and its betrayal of the hope of millions of people that brought the Left to power are undeniable facts, which cannot be washed away by historical distortions and character assassination tactics . Alexis Tsipras lied to the Greek people, instead of telling them the truth about what his party can and cannot do once it came to power.
Indeed, what Zoe Konstantopoulou and other leftist radicals in Greece fail to inform us is what realistic alternatives were open to those political forces that wished to put an end to the EU/IMF bailouts and to the destructive policies that accommodated them.
Zoe Konstantopoulou seems to ignore the fact that the overwhelming majority of the Greek people did not wish to see Greece exit the Eurozone and go back to a national currency. Nor did the majority of the Greek people share the radical vision of Zoe Konstantopoulou for an alternative social organization of the economy.
Perhaps Churchill was right after all when he said that democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others. But could it also be true that the left is the worst form of government, except for all the others?
Given today’s situation in Greece, Alexis Tsipras and his inner gang might possibly agree with this pessimistic assessment, but surely not Zoe Konstantopoulou.

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