In Victory, Greek Left Says: No Bailout, No Austerity

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Common Dreams

In Victory, Greek Left Says: No Bailout, No Austerity

by
Common Dreams staff

Syriza leader Alexis Tsipras celebrates with supporters after his leftist political party won the second-largest number of seats in the Greek parliamentary elections. Tsipras said he wants to form a leftist government rejecting the terms of the eurozone country's bailouts. (AFP/Louisa Gouliamaki)

Greece's Alexis Tsipras, the leader of the insurgent Syriza (Coalition of the Radical Left) party vowed Wednesday to rip up the terms of Greece’s international bailout.  Tsipras, who has 3 days to attempt to form a government, aims to forge a coalition of “leftist” parties that would overturn current bailout policy.

“This is a great moment for the Left, a great responsibility for me,” Tsipras, 37, told President Karolos Papoulias in Athens today.

Tsipras says that Sunday’s elections were a repudiation of the bailout deal with the European Union and International Monetary Fund and the austerity measures forced upon the Greek people. “It was a mature and conscious decision,” he said, noting that the chief victory of the elections, in his view, was that the two main parties were no longer in a position to impose austerity measures on the Greek people.

Tsipras laid out five points with which any prospective coalition partners would have to agree:

  • The immediate cancellation of all impending measures that would impoverish Greeks further, such as cuts to pensions and salaries.
  • The immediate cancellation of all impending measures that undermine fundamental workers’ rights, such as the abolition of collective labor agreements.
  • The immediate abolition of a law granting MPs immunity from prosecution, reform of the electoral law and a general overhaul of the political system.
  • An investigation into Greek banks, and the immediate publication of the audit performed on the Greek banking sector by BlackRock.
  • The setting up of an international auditing committee to investigate the causes of Greece’s public deficit, with a moratorium on all debt servicing until the findings of the audit are published.

If a new coalition government can't be formed by May 17th, new elections will be held several weeks later. The growing momentum of the anti-bailout, anti-austerity parties could give them a higher percentage of the vote in new elections.

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The Greek Reporter reports:

Greece’s new power broker, SYRIZA party leader Alexis Tsipras, is trying to form a coalition government in the wake of the country’s fractured election results, but has laid down tough conditions that would require a rejection of the deals that provided the country with a first rescue package of $152 billion in emergency loans from international lenders and a coming second bailout of $173 billion more.

Austerity measures that have infuriated Greeks and set off two years of protests, strikes and riotsThose came with attached austerity measures that have infuriated Greeks and set off two years of protests, strikes and riots and led voters to abandon the traditional ruling parties who supported the pay cuts, tax hikes, and slashed pensions – New Democracy Conservatives and PASOK Socialists. [...]

Tsipras had demanded that the two former ruling parties withdraw pledges given in exchange for the bailout as a condition for joining his government. A coalition alliance with these two parties had looked like the only way Tsipras could form a government. But they are unlikely to accept the condition, making repeat elections in a few weeks even more likely.

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The New York Times reports:

[...] The strong anti-incumbent vote was widely seen as a cathartic denunciation by Greeks of their leaders for signing what many regard as an onerous bailout deal with the European Union and International Monetary Fund that promises years of austerity and deprivation to help repay Greece’s enormous debts.

“If Mr. Samaras and Mr. Venizelos genuinely regret their disastrous decisions, let them write to the E.U. and I.M.F. leaders tomorrow, revoking their signatures,” Mr. Tsipras said. “If they don’t, I call on them to stop duping the Greek people,” he said, referring to appeals by the New Democracy and Socialist leaders’ appeals for the formation of a national salvation government based on the terms of the bailout.

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