Despite Violent Protests, SYRIZA Backs Home Foreclosures

Protesters clash with riot police outside a court room in Athens, Wednesday, Nov. 29, 2017. About 200 protesters clash with police at Athens court of appeals as foreclosures begin anew as part of reforms under Greece's bailout plans. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)

ATHENS –  Clashes between Greek riot police and protesters trying to stop home foreclosures hasn’t changed the ruling Radical Left SYRIZA-led coalition from continuing to renege on promises to help debtors and the confiscations will go on.

To get around the violence at courts where the homes are being sold off despite promises by Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras not to let a single residence wind up in the hands of banks has led to the government to also allow the foreclosures to be done electronically online.

The sales, which the government said for now would be limited to strategic defaulters and as it promised no homes under 300,000 euros ($356,920) would go on the block, resumed Nov. 29 and saw a fierce battle in a court hall with police firing tear gas and pepper spray, leading to a prosecutor to say he would probe its use inside.

As usual, dissenters in SYRIZA barked about the violence but did nothing to stop Tsipras from going ahead with allowing the foreclosures and as Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos, a Marxist economist forced into embarrassing surrenders to the country’s international creditors, said it was necessary for people to lose their homes to save the banks.

SYRIZA’s Political Council met the day after the scene at the courthouse and Kathimerini said there was some dissension about the government, which opposed the use of police on anti-austerity protesters before taking power.

Some party members reportedly said it wasn’t enough for banks to make verbal promises not to go after homes under 300,000 euros and complained that the sales and violence are making SYRIZA look bad yet again even though all 144 Members of Parliament keep voting for the brutal conditions some later complain about.

Tsakalotos said the only answer is to pursue growth and investors although SYRIZA’s most radical parts don’t want them.

“(Greek) society has many needs. One of these needs is to have growth and have a society that can stand on its own feet,” Tsakalotos said after the meeting, adding that the banks – the party’s ideological enemy – come first and there can’t be growth without them.

Government spokesman Dimitris Tzanakopoulos said there must be a balance between banks and homeowners but offered no explanation on how that could happen and as it contradicted the foreclosures going on echoed similar sentiments, saying that the fine balance must be found between achieving a healthy banking system and protecting people’s homes.

“The decision taken by the political council is that the party and the government will not tolerate working class (primary) residences falling into the hands of bankers or (distress) funds,” SYRIZA MP Sakis Papadopoulos told a radio station, although Tsipras had said the Alternate Citizens Protection Minister Nikos Toskas  told a state broadcaster that the government “is committed to not allowing auctions of primary residences valued at under 300,000 euros … the residences that were included in … auctions were high value (properties).”

He said said police used tear gas after protesters first emptied fire extinguishers at them although there were scenes of police using shields to batter an elderly woman.