January 16, 2015 — El Pais, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal — On January 25 Greece will shut the door on the past. SYRIZA’s victory is the hope of the worlds of labour and of culture in all of Europe for change. To make the necessary step forward. From the darkness of austerity and of authoritarianism, into the light of democracy, of solidarity and of sustainable development.
For this reason, Greece is only the beginning. Within this year, Spain’s turn is coming. The change begins from the South. The defeat of the political sponsors of austerity, foreclosures, of insecurity and fear, of corruption and the scandals has its launching point in our countries. Our people will take the future in their hands and open the door of tomorrow for young and uncorrupted individuals. For their own people who have a clear gaze. For this reason, the victory of the Greek people and of SYRIZA carries the message of a new and hopeful course for Spain. A course which, as is shown by public opinion polls, the Spanish people are steadily turning towards. This is how the South will move forward, to change Europe.
Europe today is not a victim of the crisis – the crisis, in any case, ended where it began, in the USA, thanks to the expansionary monetary and fiscal policy. Europe is a victim of austerity. It is at risk from the conservative policies of all those who impose in their countries the selfish choices of Ms Merkel. The neoliberal management of the crisis has led the entire South to a politically unacceptable and economically unstable equilibrium of crisis. We exist between the stagnation and low GDP growth, in deflation, high indebtedness, high unemployment and spreading poverty.
And it is either a convenient delusion or a political contrivance for one to state that, with the Eurozone essentially in stasis (0.8% in 2014 and 1.1% in 2015), they will grow by themselves. And indeed when they are on the verge of deflation, have an increased public debt – over 100% of GDP this year – while at the same time being obliged to cut fiscal deficits. Regardless of how much they may cite the generous projections of the European Commission, commonsense will prevail in the end.
For this reason, the struggle of our peoples for change is the struggle of commonsense versus ideological fanaticism. It is the struggle of dignity versus servitude.
For us the equilibrium of the crisis is not an option. It is an opportunity for change. SYRIZA’s victory is a new beginning for the broadest possible cooperation of all the progressive forces and forces of the left of the European South. To stop that which is fueling stagnation, unemployment and over indebtedness: austerity. It is the launching point for the coordination of our policies for growth. To restore economic security and dignity to our countries. To repatriate the exiled youth – the young migrants.
These days, the European Central Bank holds the key to Europe. The policy of quantitative easing is one of the proposals for the collective and sustainable exit of the Eurozone from the crisis. If it is adopted it will be welcome, even after such a long delay. But for it to be effective it will have to completely reflect Mario Draghi’s “whatever it takes” statement. This means that it will have to be broad, without conditions and exemptions. That is, to include all of the countries that need it.
But monetary policy alone cannot counter the challenge of growth. We urgently need:
- Expansionary fiscal policy in all the countries in the Eurozone where it is possible according to the current rules.
- A European “New Deal”. That is, strong, European funding of broad-scale development programs with high added value, and a plan to support industry — in particular in European economies with particularly high unemployment.
- A lightening of the debt burden in the framework of a “European Debt Conference” along the lines of the London Conference of 1953 that facilitated the post-war development of Germany. The collective and socially sustainable restructuring of the over indebtedness of the Eurozone is not a moral hazard for Ms Merkel, but a moral duty.
On January 25 the country will have hope. And Europe a compass for change.
#AskTsipras Twitter interview trends worldwide
January 15, 2015 — heTOC.gr — The move by the SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras to field questions via Twitter on January 14 may have been portrayed by the party as evidence of the leftist leader’s rejection of mainstream media in favour of connecting directly with the voters, but it still succeeded in making a lot of conventional headlines.
Reflecting the international interest in the January 25 election in Greece and the significant likelihood that Tsipras will lead Greece’s next government, 32,000 tweets were submitted with the hashtag #askTsipras in the space of a few hours. According to Twitter #AskTsipras was trending #1 in Greece yesterday and #3 worldwide.
Of course with so many Tweets to choose from the organisers of the event — which was hosted by the SYRIZA-friendly Avgi newspaper — were able to pick and choose the questions Tsipras was to answer, offering little by way of discomfort. Instead it was more of an opportunity for Tsipras to mainly repeat the main points of SYRIZA’s platform.
Some of the main points of #AskTsipras interview:
The SYRIZA leader promised to implement a fairer tax system, combating the excessive taxation on average citizens with greater taxes on wealth.
With regards to corruption Tsipras said that he plans to combat this with a new anti-corruption bureau answerable directly to the prime minister. He also promised to “end the party” for contractors and “national procurers” benefiting from bloated state contracts. In a separate answer he accused the Hellenic Asset Development Fund (responsible for Greece’s privatisation program) of being a “breeding ground for scandals”, maintaining that the current privatisation program was to “serve interests” and that it hadn’t helped reduce Greece’s debt. SYRIZA has vowed to re-examine the privatisations of state assets that have already gone ahead.
He named the state-un companies for water, electricity, energy and telecommunications as being of “strategic importance”. In a separate answer he also described the privatisation of Olympic Airways several years ago as a “national crime”.
Tsipras reiterated his pledge to order an inquiry into the actions that led Greece into the Memorandum and hold those culpable of misdeeds accountable.
He also said that he would reform the police, with an emphasis on the effective combating of crime while dismantling the “police state”. He also said that he wanted the police who come in contact with protesters to be disarmed.
Reflecting his adoption of more moderate views in light of the elections, Tsipras backed away from earlier pledges to pull Greece out of NATO. When asked whether he would honour that party position he said, “We will not take part in NATO with a bowed head. We will not support military interventions. We will defend international legality.”
Of course the #asktsipras hashtag was also bait for a number of internet wags asking everything from how Homeland is likely to end, who will die next on Game of Thrones and whether they should wear a jacket out.
Overall the over 32,000 tweets came from 5899 users.
As might be expected the majority of tweeps taking part (54%) were in the 21-35 age range, with 33% in the 36-50 range, 7% were in the 51+ age range and 6% below the age of 20.
Of the tweets 85% were classed as “neutral”. Of the remaining 15%, the majority were negative (60%) and the remainder positive.