Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, in an interview with the radio station ‘Sto Kokkino’ on Wednesday, made it clear that the government would be forced to hold elections if the current divisions within the ruling coalition’s leading party SYRIZA could not be overcome.
“I am the guarantor of unity in SYRIZA and will strive to the end to guarantee it, but forced unity does not exist anywhere,” he said in a message to party rebels. He underlined that he will not allow SYRIZA to become a problem for the country and expressed fears that the decisions to provoke this rupture and splinter the party had been taken “long before this”.
“I would be the last one to want elections if we had a secure government majority behind a plan to complete our four-year term….an effort to fight and be judged in real politics, not in theory, whether we can contend with the enclaves of power. If I don’t have a parliamentary majority, I will be forced, we will be forced to hold elections,” he said.
Tsipras underlined that his proposal for an emergency conference in September so the party might make decisions on crucial strategic dilemmas facing the country was reasonable and that he was unable to understand a demand by some members that the party adopt a position before the agreement:
“There is not even the minimum expression of comradely solidarity. It is as if we are holding a bomb and they are saying: ‘No, we will force you to have the bomb explode in your hands. I don’t understand this. If there is such a demand, the least one can ask at this time is for the members to decide with a vote in a short space of time, which does not preclude holding a conference later,” he said.
Noting that efforts to transform SYRIZA into a unified party in 2013 had failed, he said that a party could afford to contain divergent views in the opposition but this became unworkable for a party in government.
“We cannot have an a la carte majority,” he underlined, “all ideas should be… presented democratically. But when you make a decision to govern the country, then you must govern the country.”
When a decision was taken collectively, then this collective decision must be respected by all MPs, he said.
Otherwise, the rules of SYRIZA’s parliamentary group were that those with a different viewpoint must give up their seat. Tsipras made it clear, however, that he had not asked and did not intend to ask for seats in Parliament to be given up but for an organised, collective procedure where the party as whole could make decisions.
“In my view, you cannot say that I vote against the government’s proposals and at the same time I support it. This is too surreal,” he added.
Tsipras also expressed surprise at the stance of some of the dissenters, saying that many of them had shared the same fears and anxiety as he did leading up to the referendum but, once he had pulled the country back from the brink, they decided “we have the right to let you vote while we reap the laurels of ideological purity.”