Greek election victory, British comment

This 25 January 2015 video is called Greek youths welcome Syriza victory.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Star Comment: Tsipras must show his mettle

Tuesday 27th january 2015

GREEK voters have defied the scare stories that a vote for the left-of-centre Syriza alliance would turn their country into a bankrupt “North Korea” of the Balkans.

They have opted to put Alexis Tsipras into office as the prime minister of what will be a coalition with the anti-austerity, anti-immigration and pro-Orthodox Church “Independent Greeks.

The Greek Communist Party (KKE) had already made clear its position not to enter into any coalition which does not seek to put the country on the path to socialism from the outset, based on a programme of transformational policies that would entail withdrawal from the EU and Nato.

Syriza once claimed to share a similar perspective, but the prospect of electoral success has seen it jettisoned over the past three months.

Yet the alliance still proclaims its determination to end the nightmare of austerity which has slashed social and welfare programmes, destroyed one-fifth of the Greek economy and sent unemployment even higher than today’s rate of 26 per cent (29 per cent for women and 51 per cent for young people).

Syriza wants to renegotiate the country’s debt repayments to the “troika” — the EU Commission, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund — indexing them to GDP growth so that they reflect the country’s ability to pay.

This approach would also allow a Syriza-led government the breathing space to reform the tax system, provide a safety net for the homeless and destitute, boost the minimum wage and reflate the economy.

Except that the EU, and in particular the German government and the Bundesbank, is unlikely to play ball to anything like the extent necessary.

After all, they refused to ease most debt conditions for the previous right-wing New Democracy administration only last December.

The primary purpose of the €248 billion bailout and austerity package imposed on the Greek working class four years ago was to ensure that Athens had the money to redeem its government bonds when they reach maturity.

German and French banks were among the biggest bond holders. That is where nine-tenths of the bailout dosh has gone.

Bailouts are for the bankers, not for the people. Austerity policies are about cutting taxes for the rich and privatising public services for big business, not cutting government debt.

That is as true for bailout and austerity programmes imposed by the troika in Greece, Cyprus, Portugal, Spain and Ireland as for that imposed by the Tory-Lib Dem, Bank of England and City of London troika in Britain.

Just as Greek debt as a proportion of GDP is now greater than in 2010, so too it still increases here.

But even before negotiations with the troika begin, Syriza economists are making it clear they intend to govern within the constraints of a balanced budget, membership of the eurozone and the commitments implied by continuing Nato membership.

Insofar as they can still propose measures which benefit Greek workers and their families while doing so, they should receive support from the left across Europe.

In the unlikely event of Syriza ending up on a collision course with the troika, they will need all the solidarity that socialists, communists, democrats and the trade unions everywhere can muster.

However, should a Syriza-led government dash the hopes raised by its own rhetoric, the main beneficiaries in Greece could well be the New Democracy conservatives and the Golden Dawn fascists.

AT THE heart of the Greek elections this weekend lay the fates of thousands of dockers and port workers — especially those employed by Chinese shipping company Cosco, which runs Piraeus port Pier 3. Left parties have long promised to renationalise Pier 3, which was practically given away to Cosco by Piraeus’s neoliberal New Democracy government in 2009: here.

GREECE’s new cabinet was unveiled by Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras yesterday — and Finance Minister Yanis Varouflakis seemed set for a collision course with the EU. Mr Varouflakis has pledged to take on Greek oligarchs — “a network that viciously sucks the energy and the economic power from everybody else in society.” He became best known as a blogger who slammed the bailout conditions imposed by the EU, IMF and European Central Bank on the country: here.

‘Debt must be paid in full!’ – German bankers threaten Greece: here.

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