ATHENS – A former minister in the Cabinet of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said the Radical Left SYRIZA leader had a plan to print drachmas as part of an anti-austerity referendum in 2015 he reneged on when Greeks supported his call to reject demands of international creditors.
Tsipras called the vote but when he got overwhelming support, he promptly did another about-face and sought and accepted a third bailout, this one for 86 billion euros ($100.67 billion) that came with more crushing conditions he swore to reject but then imposed.
Panagiotis Lafazanis, who was a minister in charge of reconstruction, energy and the environment, told radio station “Obviously, we would have printed them (new drachmas) in Greece…” if the country left the Eurozone.
When Tsipras reneged on the referendum after reneging on anti-austerity promises, it was too much for Lafazanis and some hard-core Leftists who quit the party. He formed his own, called Popular Unity, which has failed to register in polls.
He spoke on the third anniversary of the referendum that saw delirious SYRIZA supporters dance in the streets only to see their hero reject them and with repeated withdrawals on promises to reverse pay cuts, tax hikes, slashed pensions and worker firings – while adding more and higher taxes – driving his popularity at one point down to 10 percent.
Asked about the referendum reneging, Lafazanis said said it was a “national tragedy; a major coup … whatever happened from then on, with the violation of the popular will, cannot produce any legal result. Everything that has happened since then is unconstitutional and illegal.”
As has former finance minister Yanis Varoufakis, who also quit, Lafazanis tore into Tsipras for betraying the party’s alleged principles, saying the Premier engineered a “coup” with the help of Greek President Prokopis Pavlopoulos from the major rival New Democracy Conservatives – “who schemed and conspired in order to drown out the popular volition.”
“Both of them should have their names written with black letters in the country’s modern history as cynical putschists… at some point those responsible will appear in the dock to answer,” said Lafazanis.