Yanis Varoufakis speaks on betrayal in Belfast

In a recent visit to Belfast, former Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis was asked how ‘betrayed’ he felt by Syriza, the party with whom he served in Government during fraught negotiations between the Greek government, the troika and other European governments in the summer of 2015.

The negotiations resulted in a proposal, with which Varoufakis disagreed, to inflict further austerity on Greece. The proposal was rejected by the Greek people in a referendum. Varoufakis was forced to resign as finance minister by the leader of Syriza, Alexis Tsipras, whose government went on to implement a program of massive austerity in Greece.

In response to the question “How betrayed do you feel by Syriza?” Varoufakis responded.

“We leftists have been very very good at creating gulags to which we sent each other, at pointing moralistic fingers at one another, at calling each other traitors, at turning against each other — and I have determined and committed myself to not do this ever, in my own political career, in my own personal life.

So I’m never going to say to Alexis Tsipras you’re a traitor, to say to my former colleagues, my comrades anything that can be construed as a denunciation — I’m not going to denounce my comrades and my friends.

I have stated my very serious disagreement with what they did.”

With the long history of splits and divisions among progressive, left and republican groups, here in Ireland and further afield, the response of Yanis Varoufakis to the invitation to speak of how ‘betrayed’ he felt, might contain lessons of relevance at a time when a united progressive response is needed to world-wide austerity.

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Using Your Vote for Positive Change Could Make A Real Difference

In the 2016 Stormont Assembly elections 577,851 of those eligible to vote did not use their vote. In the new assembly with 90 seats and 18 constituencies, assuming the eligible electorate stays roughly the same, if everyone voted, the average quota to elect an MLA would be around 11,000 or 12,000 votes. This means that the 577,851 eligible votes not cast in the 2016 Assembly election, could elect around 50 MLAs at the 2nd March Assembly elections.

It requires 46 MLAs to form a simple majority in the Assembly. It takes 30 MLAs to trigger a petition of concern. If the 577,851 people who did not use their vote in the last Assembly election were to use their vote on 2nd March to elect candidates who support progressive policies based on respect and equality and who are committed to creating a fair, just and equitable society, if they were to use their votes to oppose policies based on bigotry, sectarianism, misogyny, homophobia and austerity, they could change the balance of power in the Assembly. They could replace around 50 existing MLAs who have supported bigotry, sectarianism, racism, homophobia and brutal austerity with MLAs who will defend equality, mutual respect and a fair and equitable society. By joining with thousands who already use their votes and their energy in support of progressive policies they could bring fundamental change to this society.