“…complex issues cannot always be addressed via online petitions.”

Sinn Féin, and others, agitating on behalf of “the Syriza experiment” following the recent elections in Greece, has more to do with positioning to blame the current Irish Government for the likely outcome [added link] than any professed desire for a resolution in Ireland’s favour.

But there are a few things to note about the rise of the various Eurosceptic and anti-establishment parties across Europe [Who “will ultimately chose financial and macroeconomic stability over revolution? – Ed].  Perhaps…

Firstly, domestic democratic pressures are universal.  As are democratic mandates.  And that includes Germany…

To criticise the German-bashing bandwagon is not about painting the country as a victim. It’s about whether you believe that lazy cliches distort rather than help us understand the real nature of the political crisis at the heart of Europe. Blaming an evil German empire can be a convenient excuse for democratically elected southern European governments who don’t want to take the flak for unpopular decisions at home. It also deflects attention from other austerity hardliners such as Finland or the Netherlands. It suggests that there is an easy solution to the Greek sovereign debt crisis, when the reality is far more complex. [added emphasis]

Indeed.  And on Syriza’s comrades-in-arms in Spain, Podemos, of whom we’ve heard less than you might have expected…

There is an admirable romanticism to Podemos shaking up a sclerotic political scene. But behind its utopian energy there is more cold-blooded realpolitik than meets the eye. Podemos portrays itself as giving a voice to the ordinary citizens consulted on the internet or through hundreds of spontaneous assemblies called “circles”. Yet once the online voting has happened, the overall message is decided by a 10-member coordination council, nominated by Iglesias. At its worst, Podemos could resemble something like Leninist-centralism-meets-the-digital-era.

Explaining his communication strategy, Iglesias once pointed out how in 1917 Lenin “didn’t talk to the Russians about ‘dialectical materialism’, he talked to them about ‘bread and peace’”. The Podemos leader also believes that “Heaven is not taken by consensus, it is taken by assault.” Such statements have made it easy for critics to accuse Iglesias of authoritarian tendencies, influenced by outdated ideologies.

Iglesias and his close circle of friends in the Podemos leadership have spent time in Venezuela and Bolivia in the last decade, some of them acting as advisers to regimes whose democratic credentials aren’t exactly solid. Questions have been raised in the Spanish media about financial dealings from the regime of the late Venezuelan leader Hugo Chávez, whom Iglesias has expressed admiration for. Podemos has since toned down its rhetoric about Bolivarian revolutions; it now claims to want to mimic northern European social democrats instead.

But the impression of ideological muddle endures. During the Maidan protests in Ukraine, Iglesias largely came down on the side of Putin’s propaganda. And when Syriza formed a coalition with the antisemitic, far-right Independent Greek party, Iglesias defended it as “a programmatic choice”.

Podemos has successfully captured a mood of popular protest in Spain, but it is now aiming to structure itself as a credible and reassuring political party. It claims to renew democracy, yet it knows complex issues cannot always be addressed via online petitions. It has the ambition of a mass movement but is run by a tight circle of professors. It talks about hope but its casta narrative is very Manichean.

Sounds familiar[Apart from the “professors”! – Ed].  You might very well think that…  And, as today’s Irish Times editorial notes, there may be another reason why we’ve heard less about Podemos from certain parties.

Podemos has used social media to channel and amplify the raw fury of the indignados street movement of recent years to a much more heterogeneous public. By broadly targeting the political establishment it has become both magnet and stimulant for social discontent. Ironically, the party has probably also siphoned off some social radicals from the burgeoning Catalan and Basque independence movements, thus potentially easing one of Spain’s biggest challenges.  [added emphasis]

ANYhoo… back to Greece…

All eyes turn to next week’s informal summit in Brussels and Tripras’s first meeting with Merkel. The German leader is waiting for the new Greek leader to run himself out, say allies. Explaining her reserve to date, they cite the chancellor’s favoured maxim: “In der Ruhe liegt die Kraft” – strength lies in calm.

Merkel knows that the bridging loan Athens wants could be a bridge too far for her centre-right Christian Democratic Union. Any further concessions to Greece would allow the Alternative für Deutschland party, with its pro-Grexit campaign, peel away more of her conservative members.

With her attention focused on Ukraine, the German leader knows that resolving the Greek crisis is a balancing act that goes beyond single-currency concerns: too much leeway risks exhausting the patience – and finances – of Greece’s neighbours; too little leeway could force Athens to look elsewhere for financing.

“The only reason I think Greece is still in the euro is the fear of driving them into anyone else’s arms, like Russia,” says Jan Techau, head of the Carnegie Europe think tank, in Brussels.

After a week on the road Greece faces a complicated campaign with many moving parts and national interests. It has some sympathetic but noncommittal allies to its cause and may yet win a hearing from sceptical capitals in Berlin’s camp, such as Vienna and Helsinki. Even though Finland faces an election in April, with eurosceptic populists relishing a renewed Greek crisis, the Finnish foreign minister, Erkki Tuomioja, admitted on Wednesday that it was “in the general European interest to get along with the new Greek government”.

Between the two fronts are former programme countries such as Ireland and Portugal, torn between applauding and upbraiding Greece for taking on the troika for a better deal.

After many twists and turns the Greek crisis has reached its most dangerous bend in the treacherous mountain road. As the rest of the euro area looks on, Athens and Berlin are racing towards each other, each claiming in public – and hoping in private – that the other has more to lose by not yielding. But as the pressure builds in both capitals, the same poisonous accusation has seeped into the political discourse of the other: blackmail. [added emphasis]

Don’t forget to tune in next week!  [For another exciting episode… – Ed]

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  • Cue Bono

    So you are a voter in the ROI and you are thinking to yourself “I like what these Syriza guys are doing. Perhaps we can indeed have our cake and eat it too. I shall hold my nose and vote SF for they are singing from the same hymn sheet”

    You are Angela Merkel and you are thinking to yourself “Gott in der Himmel if we give these Greek Bozos what they want then Der Paddys und Der Spaniard Dumkopfts are going to be wanting der same thing und we will all be up Der sheisse creek minus der paddle just when things were beginning to improve.”

    So you stand up to the Greeks and let them destroy themselves.

    So you are a voter in the ROI and you are thinking to yourself “I would need to be absolutely fecking insane to vote for Sinn Fein. I prefer to live in a country were the electricity runs twenty four hours a day.”

  • mickfealty

    You missed the bit about Ukraine, and Russia?

  • Cue Bono

    I’m aware of it Mick. I’m thinking though that on balance most Greek people would prefer to be in debt to the EU than in the pocket of Putin. The Germans at the minute are trying their best to stop the Americans from arming the Ukranians, which suggests to me that they are more interested in appeasing Putin than they are in helping out the Ukranian people.

  • Tacapall

    Yes the Ukranians people do need help from these people –


    Its pretty obvious the Ukranian people dont show the same enthusiasm for war as the western media would wish us to believe.

  • Kevin Breslin

    Ironically, the party has probably also siphoned off some social radicals from the burgeoning Catalan and Basque independence movements, thus potentially easing one of Spain’s biggest challenges.

    Are you inferring we’ll be seeing Sinn Féin Socialists vs. Sinn Féin Republicans … Wasn’t that already in the works during the Official Provisional split?

  • Cue Bono

    Help me out with what you are saying here Tapacall. Are you with Putin when it comes to the partition of Ukraine?

  • Cue Bono

    I think he is inferring that the Podemos folks are syphoning votes away from people would normally vote for the equivalent of SF.

  • No.

  • What Cue Bono said. Sort of. I just find it interesting that Podemos don’t appear to get the same love from Sinn Féin that Syriza have done.
    And the quote may help to explain that – in that Podemos are taking support [both votes and activists] away from those Sinn Féin would have traditionally seen as allies. Indeed, perhaps more than allies.

  • duineodhoire

    ‘Ironically, the party has probably also siphoned off some social radicals from the burgeoning Catalan and Basque independence movements, thus potentially easing one of Spain’s biggest challenges.’

    The IT doesn’t give any evidence for this assertion, and I haven’t
    seen any mention of such a thing in the Spanish media. I’d be interested to
    know if there is any truth to this.

    Also, Mr. Baker, the repetitive ‘anyhoo’ thing is a bit
    annoying, just saying…

    Is mise le meas,

    Duine ó Dhoire.

  • Tacapall

    What would give you that idea. Im simply showing the truth, and as far as I can remember Ukraine was part of Russia until the legally elected government was overthrown by Nato backed dissidents.

  • Tacapall

    Thats your personal opinion or fact ?

  • Cue Bono

    Well there are a couple of problems with what you are saying Tapacall. The first is that Ukraine was part of the Soviet Union (the sort of empire that Provos don’t mind) and not a part of Russia. The other thing is that you have supplied a link to RT as evidence. A television channel which is widely acknowledged as being an unashamed propaganda mouthpiece of Vladimir Putin.

    So what exactly was your point?

  • Tacapall

    Did the Ukranian government not pass a law allowing deserters to be shot ?

    Im reading the same news your reading – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-26624471

    What am I saying – Obviously theres oil and gas or other natural resourses in Ukraine that certain parties want access to, just like Iraq, Afganistan, Lybia, Syria, Gaza, Iran, Yemen., Somalia.

  • Cue Bono

    So what are you saying Tapacall? That the partition of Ukraine is fair enough, or that the whole country should come under Russian rule?

    I know about the oil and gas etc, but do you think that it is okay for Russia to covertly invade the place?

  • Not necessarily mutually exclusive.

  • Glenn Clare

    Irish republicans want war but on their terms. They want every government or country to fight wars with one hand tied behind their backs, while they have a free run. They seem to have no problems with the atrocities done in their name, but when you take the war to them they squeal like the proverbial cowards they are. And this ideology extends to every other government and country who are defending themselves against terror or foreign aggression.

  • Tacapall

    Thats big brush your tarring everyone with Glenn. Can you not be an Irish republican and a pacifist or is that a luxury only applicable to anyone who’s not a republican. Foreign agression and Britain, now isn’t that salt and pepper.

    Cue I believe its up to the people of Ukraine to decide whats best for them, does passing a law allowing the shooting of their own citizens for not wanting to fight a bankers war tell you enough. No I dont want Russia to invade anywhere nor to arm anyone but you should direct that same question to the likes of David Cameron and the British government and its NATO partners.

  • I’ve added a link to this post by the Guardian’s Larry Elliott – “A Greece debt deal is by all means not impossible”

  • SaffronDuck

    How amusing that the author seeks to lecture on an area he clearly has only recent Google knowledge. SYRIZA is no experiment. It is the outworking of a major reorganisation in the Greek left that managed to restructure a coalition that had decent success in the late 80s and early 90s as SYNASPISMOS before a decline in no small part caused by the insane Tankies of the KKE. A clear left wing constituency in Greece was re energised and is the base for SYRIZA that was then able to capitalise on a broader appetite for change. This in spite a strong Union sector often dominated by the Stalinists. This is no experiment or reactionary, there has long been a radical left tradition and base in Greece this merely it being more organised and able to attract support from 1 in 3 not the 1 in 6 of its previous high water mark.

    The reason they were so able to thrive in austerity Greece is because they are a party of pedigree and policy not fly by night reactionary hustlers and hate mongers. The people of Greece have seen them articulate for decades the policies and warnings that took them into Government

  • SaffronDuck

    The comments on Podemos which are clearly an attempt to wind up SF also further demonstrate the author’s recent Google based knowledge of the European Left.

  • Try following the links, Saffron.

    You did notice the quotation marks around “the Syriza experiment”, didn’t you? If you have a problem with that description I suggest you take it up with the person I’ve quoted. Apparently he’s a Syriza MP…

    How amusing.

  • PaulT

    so who is the guy in the middle?


  • SaffronDuck

    Though in the interests of integrity over anecdotal I’ll also note the only polling done since Podemos created a strong left non-nationalist presence in Basque areas does indicate they have impacted on Nationalist and Left-Nationalist support along with the support of others. Making the poll in the Basque Country the most left Ive ever seen. If that held up…. http://m.europapress.es/nacional/noticia-amp-pnv-ganaria-elecciones-vascas-22-23-escanos-podemos-seria-segunda-fuerza-21-22-desplazando-eh-bildu-20141226091045.html

    What Connollyite won’t love those numbers in Spain? “If you remove the English army to-morrow and hoist the green flag over Dublin Castle, unless you set about the organisation of the Socialist Republic your efforts would be in vain.”

  • SaffronDuck

    Touche Mr Baker. Touche. Though of course I doubt you were quoting Costas and giving the meaning he intends given your tone and weight. A main definition of Experiment as you must know is – a test to demonstrate a known truth.

  • SaffronDuck

    A farmer? He’s always seeking out new fields (of struggle). Or the other one, the leader of a party Pete contends SF avoid?

  • Mind-reading doesn’t work, Saffron.

    “the meaning he intends”?

    Costas’ entire article, from which the quote is taken, was linked. I’m not sure what else you want me to do when quoting someone.

    For the benefit of those who also failed to follow the link, here is the full paragraph from which the quote was taken

    The “good euro” line is coming face to face with reality, and two things are of paramount importance: first, the forces of austerity currently strangling Europe should not be allowed to crush the Syriza experiment, or turn it into a moth-eaten compromise; second, Syriza should make solid and meticulous preparations for all eventualities, a point that is well understood by many within it. The rest is political chitter-chatter.

  • Saffron

    No-one is contending that they’re avoiding Podemos. Not least at the European Parliament where they are in the same loose coalition.

    Far from it. Sinn Fein want to emulate Podemos – As long as everyone knows who pulls the strings. But there may be some sensitivities involved in the short term…