After the election victory of Syriza in Greece on Sunday 25th Jan, what are the chances they will implement their new anti-austerity programme and does this mean we can all follow their path. Is this a return of democracy -i.e. the will of the people. And can the rest of us follow them?
The short answer is seems to be no.
Sunday 25th delivered election victory for the new far-Left political party, Syriza in Greece. Syriza are still a very young party and full of young people, many of whom are undoubtedly relatively new to politics at least since the financial crisis.
They have raised the hopes of millions of Greeks and the hopes of many more millions throughout Europe who have also suffered at the hands of austerity. The effects of the Greek crisis have been particularly severe and hit many very harshly, youth unemployment is running at 60 percent, massive cuts to health, millions below the poverty line, thousands and thousands homeless, soaring suicide rate and so on. For many people they are still in disbelief as to how life has turned for them. The main stream media has tended to portray Syriza as a very radical turn of politics which it is in that they rose so quickly to become the party with the largest share of the vote, and they have sort of presented it as a dangerous threat to the established order with some reporting it will trigger a new financial crisis and lead to Greece exiting the Euro. We had also announcements from the German central bank warning of dire problems along with a steady stream of ominous messages from like minded pro-austerity institutes and political centres.
But is it really true and what is it that Syriza has been threatening to do that has made them so popular. According to their anti-austerity plan before the election, they promised to stop austerity by introducing a €16 billion approx programme to increase the minimum wage, restore collective bargaining agreements, bring in a €5 billion worth of incentives for firms to hire workers, raise pensions, provide free electricity probably up to a certain amount of usage, cutting oil heating prices, free food for the very poor, freeze public sector layoffs, scrap unpopular austerity taxes, crack down on tax evasion, take on big business people, stopping the sale of state assets and renegotiate the debt.
So what's the problem? They announced their plan; they've been elected so now all they have to do is implement the will of the people. And if Greece can do it then surely we in Ireland can vote in like minded individuals and do the same here and the Spanish, Italians and Portuguese can do the same too.
Unfortunately the omens are not good and it looks like the Greeks are going to get their own form of a Labour Party election betrayal. In an article on the WSWS website here ( http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2015/01/26/gree-j26.html ) it reports:
In a victory speech delivered at Athens University, Syriza leader Alexis Tsipras said he would find a "new viable solution" for Greece and Europe. "The troika, that is the past," Tsipras said, referring to the EU, the European Central Bank (ECB) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which together arranged austerity policies with governments in Athens.
However, Tsipras promptly promised to work with Greece’s lenders, the most important of which are the agencies making up the "troika." He said that the Greek government would be "ready to negotiate with our lenders a mutually acceptable solution" and would "prove all Cassandras wrong. There will be no conflict with partners."
In the run-up to the elections, Syriza officials were busy behind the scenes reassuring journalists, economists and politicians that an election victory posed no danger to the banks. European news site EurActiv wrote: "Key to Syriza’s ascent, party officials say privately, is a calculated effort to moderate the radical leftist rhetoric that prompted Der Spiegel to name Tsipras among the most dangerous men in Europe in 2012."
Former Syriza leader Alekos Alavanos stressed that the party would pose no threat to the banks in an interview with the Financial Times of London two days ago. "Even Mr Tsipras’ predecessor as Syriza chief, Alekos Alavanos, questions whether the party’s rhetoric matches its intentions," the FT concluded, citing Alavanos’s remark that Syriza "now is a moderate party."
Economist Jean-Marc Daniel reassured France’s 20 Minutes that Syriza would do no long-term harm to the stock portfolios of the affluent and the super-rich. "The stock market does not usually like the beginning of ‘left’ governments, but it picks up gradually as they abandon their program. What is most striking about Alexis Tsipras, is that he is already diluting his program," Daniel said.
If representatives of finance capital state so openly and with such confidence that Syriza is no threat to them, this is because Syriza has been thoroughly vetted by the banks and intelligence agencies. Since Syriza emerged as a major electoral force in Greece in 2012, Tsipras has met publicly with the Greek army and repeatedly traveled to the major capitals of the euro zone and to Washington - after declaring himself an admirer of President Barack Obama’s economic policies.