Sunday, January 25, 2015

Greece: Far left wins election - setting stage for battle with Europe

ATHENS — Greece rejected the punishing economics of austerity on Sunday and sent a warning signal to the rest of Europe as the left-wing Syriza party won a decisive victory in national elections, positioning its tough-talking leader, Alexis Tsipras, to become the next prime minister.

With 60 percent of the vote counted, Syriza had 36 percent, almost eight points ahead of the governing center-right New Democracy Party of Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, who had conceded defeat. The only uncertainty was whether Syriza would muster an outright parliamentary majority or if it would have to form a coalition.

Appearing before a throng of supporters outside Athens University late Sunday night, Mr. Tsipras, 40, declared that the era of austerity was over and promised to revive the Greek economy. He also said his government would not allow Greece’s creditors to strangle the country.

“Greece will now move ahead with hope, and reach out to Europe, and Europe is going to change,” he said. “The verdict is clear: We will bring an end to the vicious circle of austerity.”

Read the rest here.


rabidgandhi said...

I may be getting on in years, but at what point did a party whose main platform is affordable health care, progressive taxation, prioritising obligations to pensioners over obligations to bondholders, and watered-down fiscal autonomy become "far left"? Back in my day the "far left" wanted to nationalise industry and repudiate the banker-designed EU, none of which have been championed by Messr Tsirpas et al.

In fact I just heard the BBC call SYRIZA "the radical left". It sounds like the heavily big-business slanted NYT and BBC have been reading their own drivel for too long to have a compass to tell them which way is left.

John (Ad Orientem) said...

Sorry rabidgandhi. Most of the parties in this coalition self identify as some flavor of Communist and or neo-Marxist. That makes them far left in my book and I think most reasonable people would agree.

rabidgandhi said...

I see where you're coming from John, but I respectfully disagree.

By your grounds, we would then have to say the Labour Party are pro-labour or the Christian Democrat party of Germany are pro-Christianity. That is not what a "reasonable" person would think, it is rather what someone would assume based on reading the standard opinion in the New York Times instead of looking into the actual stances said parties take.

As I mentioned, Syriza (judged by their platform, not by meaningless labels) are significantly to the *right* of most of Greek public opinion: they do not want to leave the EU, they do not want to drop the Euro, and just yesterday Tsirpas said they are against a default.

All of this pearl-clutching by the established press is utterly unfounded, though unsurprising coming from a group that consistently hyperventilates in the face of the slightest changes. What is surprising is how easily it gets accepted as 'reasonable' in spite of the actual facts.

John (Ad Orientem) said...

Have you bothered to look at the platforms of the individual parties that comprise this coalition? I could not find information on all of them and most need to be translated from Greek, but here is a sampling of some of their views...

* A 100% tax on all income exceeding 100,000 euros.
* Nationalization of major industry.
* Strict regulation, curtailment or outright abolition of private property (positions vary between parties).
* Abolition of the armed forces.
* Withdrawal from NATO.
* Open borders and unrestricted immigration.
* Confiscation of all property other than actual church buildings and chapels held by the Greek Orthodox Church and abolition of all legal privileges held by the Church.

As far as I am aware none of these positions were put into the election platform of their coalition, but these views are pretty widely held among many of the parties making up the new government.

As to their claims to being against default, that is pure doubletalk. When you run on a platform saying you will not comply with the loan agreements your country made, and calling for the abolition of half your country's sovereign debt, that's defaulting. Calling it anything else is putting lipstick on a pig.

Greece is one step away from becoming Argentina, albeit with nicer weather.

John (Ad Orientem) said...

P.S. I actually agree with the idea of ditching NATO though probably for very different reasons.