“Radical” Syriza Defying the Troika

Alexis Tsipras wins the election with Syriza. Photo: Jewish Herald

Alexis Tsipras wins the election with Syriza. Photo: Jewish Herald

In the post-New Labour world, where all major Western parties have conformed to the tenets of free market capitalism and financial sector guruism, the Greek left-wing Syriza may appear as a threat to the future of Europe. Despite the economic blackmailing and fear tactics from other EU members, Syriza won the elections and will form a coalition government with the Independent Greeks, a nationalist conservative party. And rest of the West are not happy.

Disciples of economic austerity methods formed a choir of scaremongering prophets of doom the moment it became clear that the Greeks were to have new elections in January. Willing to push the country to the brink of a humanitarian crisis for their doctrines, the right flank of European economics feared the possibility of an alternative being given to the citizens of Greece. ‘There is no alternative’ imposed from above especially by the Troika of European Central Bank, the European Union, and International Monetary Fund had reached the end of the road; the ordinary Greeks had had enough. But democratic legitimacy hardly matters when fiscal policy is on the line.

Indeed, right after the elections Prime Minister David Cameron continued the prophecies by claiming that the result will only “increase economic uncertainty across Europe.” At first the euro did fall into an 11-year low against the dollar, but quickly recovered as the initial concerns in the financial markets yielded. Similarly fearful, Angela Merkel has ordered the austerity measures to continue and demanded commitment from the Greeks. One after another, the European leaders began speaking against Syriza’s plans of a debt write-off in a manner that at times seemed to reach the ‘my way or highway’ type of rhetoric. With George Osborne stating that Syriza’s policies are clashing with the Eurozone and that the Greek exit could be an option, Greece might be pushed towards ‘Grexit’ due to economic differences.

Certainly, the austerity measures have not helped Greece – on the contrary. The state’s GDP per capita has fallen a staggering 22% since 2008. The GDP itself has shrunk 19% since 2010, in a country that has been in recession since 2008. Debts as a share of Greece’s GDP is now up to 176%, when in 2009 it was 127%. In sum, the austerity measures introduced by the EU have made the collapse caused by the 2008 economic crisis even worse. Reducing the national debt to a reasonable level with the annual growth rate of 1.6% would take decades. Currently 2.5 million people, around a quarter of Greece’s population, are at high risk of poverty, while nearly a million Greeks are without access to healthcare. This has led to, inter alia, rising infant mortality and suicide rates. The troika has miserably failed Greece, but keeps still stubbornly slamming its three heads against the austere wall.

Something even more important for the ruling politicians’ is on the line: power itself. The rise of Syriza was celebrated by the European left-wingers for a reason, as this example could help inspire the other anti-austerity parties around Europe in their cause. As the calls for the Labour left to stand up against cuts began, David Cameron tried to completely spin the Greek election result around by arguing that re-electing Labour in 2015 would bring serious economic consequences in Britain as well. Mr Cameron’s speech was delivered around the same time it was revealed that George Osborne’s spending cuts had hit families with young children the hardest despite economic growth. Yet, in Britain the party sphere lacks a traditionally left-wing anti-austerity party. Elsewhere in Europe, however, parties such as Podemos in Spain and the Left Front coalition in France could see their popularity rise behind the Greek example. Still, a European revolution against austerity measures and neoliberal crusading is more a subject of Russell Brand’s daydreams than reality.

Although Syriza has been repeatedly described as a radical left-wing party in the media, Syriza did not form a government coalition with the Communist Party of Greece but with a smaller right-wing Independent Greeks party. The Communists of Greece has been accusing Syriza of trying to save capitalism and that the party only attacked the neoliberal form of capitalism. After all, behind all the public campaigning to slander Syriza lies a party that is not promoting Soviet-style collectivisation of Greece but only more sensible form capitalism in the midst of ‘fiscal waterboarding’.

Below the heat of economic self-interests, however, a much more threatening consequence of the elections was left for smaller publicity. The far-right, neo-Nazi party Golden Dawn came third in the legislative election, while its leader was in jail for charges of forming a criminal organisation. With the ultra-nationalist, Eurosceptic Golden Dawn on the rise along the populist and pro-Moscow leading party, Europe should consider the election results again in the light of the EU foreign policy. Alexis Tsipras has already questioned the EU sanctions on Russia and his first meeting as the new Prime Minister of Greece was with the Russian ambassador.

Syriza’s victory marks a new chapter in the Eurozone policy that will hopefully open the eyes to the tragedy in Greece. The troika has only been kicking Greece when the country is already down, and it’s time to give a chance for something new. It will not be as revolutionary as some wish, or as destructive as the hostile voices have claimed, but a hope and an alternative to the people of Greece.


No comments.

Leave a Reply

© 2007 inQuire | Terms and Conditions | Privacy | Designed by Move Ahead Design