Greece to foster close partnership of European South
by Miguel Coelho and JoãoTexeira (August 23, 2016)
The agenda will focus on the need for a new strategy for Europe, a new social model that will emphasize on the need to get away with catastrophic austerity, the refugee issue, which is about to come back to news headlines as the EU-Turkey deal and the relocation program are not efficiently developed. Each one of these countries has its own national interest and concerns for the coming period, but there is one strong component that brings them together: the aim to strategically change the course of events in Europe and stimulate sustainable growth.
For Greece and the ruling Syriza party it is more than necessary to build wide alliances with progressive and democratic forces in Europe, even if it takes to get deep into the seas of socialist political powers to extract these parts that have achieved to keep distances from neoliberalism and the conservative devour of the European People's Party (EPP). The European Socialist Party has been struggling to identify itself in the last seven years with many fractions surfacing and pressing for a growth-oriented model in Eurozone. For Syriza it is of vital importance to shift negative balances in Eurozone, the European Council and the European Parliament, and try to influence the essence and topics of the agenda of the coming months and years.
Matteo Renzi and François Hollande are both squeezed electorally. Renzi has a referendum -over the constitutional reform- to win while Beppe Grillo and his Movement of Five Stars are dynamically entering the stage waiting Renzi in the corner. For Hollande, his popularity is shrinking day by day, especially after passing a controversial labor law and facing a mounting pressure on security issues after the bomb attacks in Paris and Nice. The race for the presidential candidacy in his party seems to be a lost case for the moment, but we should not be that certain as the French political scene has a unique way to give Presidents (and former Presidents) an unexpected second chance. For the time being, the biggest problem in French politics is the consistent rise of Le Pen and of Front National, a once reactionary, populist and anti-migrant party that has turned to be a overly systemic one with strong presence in urban centers and the periphery.
On the other side, it is not yet certain if Mariano Rajoy will come in Athens. If he is smart enough, he will do so, aiming at engulfing parts of the electorate in Spain that vie for a different political and social model for Europe, taking clear advantage in the domestic political scene, given the fragile balances that have been created for all parties after the national elections and the possibility for another, third round of elections later this year.
By accepting Greek PM's proposal, Rajoy will gain significantly in these parts of the society that support the Socialist Party, further weakening the role of Sanchez within his party's rivalries. At the same time, the arrival of Rajoy would also be a positive development for Alexis Tsipras making it less difficult for him to prove two things: that he is literally willing to give a fresh air in Europe seating at the same table with socialists and conservatives, the ones that have fiercely fought him until 2015 and abandoned him (many times) diplomatically during the last 1,5 years. Furthermore, he will also have the chance to achieve a major blow to the conservative family of EPP that has so faithfully endorsed austerity politics since 2010, by taking Rajoy into an ideological field of policy that conservatives have never felt comfortable before, i.e. how to create "another Europe" with jobs, growth and social justice.
The "Athens Summit" seems to be a great opportunity for everyone invited to develop and serve their personal, political agenda under a common cause: to fight against austerity and foster a close partnership of the European South toward that end.
Miguel Coelho and JoãoTexeira are Policy Analysts at Bridging Europe
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