Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Alexis Tsipras, the leader of the leftwing Syriza Party in Greece, is now the nation's Prime Minister. (Photo: GreekCurrent.com)

Media take on Greek Elections: Mad Leftists Win in Protest

Laura Flanders

 by GRIT TV

When it comes to elections, there’s the “who” of politics and then there’s the “what” of it. What do parties and politicians actually do to win support? While they’re not brilliant at the first, the money media in the US tend to be truly terrible at covering the latter. The historic election in Greece is a case in point.

Read the US press and you'd gather the following: Greece’s new Prime Minister, Alexis Tsipras, is its youngest ever (at forty); he's “far left,” “leftist,” a “leftist political maverick,” a “tough talker” and “charismatic.” Syriza, the party he leads, is usually called “radical," "far left," "extremist” or some mix of all the above.

What's it to you? As public radio’s market report put it on the eve of the vote, “The potentially massive repercussions of this weekend’s election in a small corner of Europe is one more risk for the world to worry about.”

So there you have it. Mad leftists win. Watch out.

If you read a little deeper, you might get a bit of a fuller picture. After five years of recession and cuts, 1.3 million Greeks – some 26% of the workforce -- are without a job, wages are down by 38%, pensions by 45 %. Almost a third of Greeks are living below the poverty line and about that many have no health insurance.

Running on a pledge to roll back spending cuts and renegotiate Greece’s loans, Tsipras's victory was generally described as a protest vote, or a vote against austerity. Which it certainly was, but there’s a bit more to it, and it's interesting stuff.

On The LF Show we had a chance to talk with a member of Syriza’s Central Committee, Yiannis Bournous last year. It’s “not charismatic speeches from balconies” that win support. He said. It’s concrete help, and Syriza's offered a good deal of that in the last few years.

As we’ve reported in the past on the show, a solidarity movement has grown up in Greece in the crisis. It runs some 400 health clinics, a network of community kitchens and what they call Food Solidarity Centers and cooperative groceries. When the first Syriza members were elected to parliament in 2012 they voted to give 20% of their monthly salary to that movement and as of this August, Bournous said Syriza volunteers were participating in 150 “networks of local solidarity" offering everything from free prescription drugs to free legal advice.

Left or right, effective leadership is important, but it’s possible, just possible, that Greek voters were swayed less by one guy’s charisma than they were by hundreds of volunteers’ daily presence in the neighborhoods.

If we looked at politics that way, how would US parties rate? Maybe there’s a reason US media prefer to stick to the surface.


© 2021 GRITtv
Laura Flanders

Laura Flanders

Laura Flanders interviews forward-thinking people about the key questions of our time on The Laura Flanders Show, a nationally syndicated radio and television program also available as a podcast. A contributing writer to The Nation, Flanders is also the author of six books, including "Bushwomen: How They Won the White House for Their Man" (2005).  She is the recipient of a 2019 Izzy Award for excellence in independent journalism, the Pat Mitchell Lifetime Achievement Award for advancing women’s and girls’ visibility in media, and a 2020 Lannan Cultural Freedom Fellowship for her reporting and advocacy for public media. lauraflanders.org

This is the world we live in. This is the world we cover.

Because of people like you, another world is possible. There are many battles to be won, but we will battle them together—all of us. Common Dreams is not your normal news site. We don't survive on clicks. We don't want advertising dollars. We want the world to be a better place. But we can't do it alone. It doesn't work that way. We need you. If you can help today—because every gift of every size matters—please do. Without Your Support We Simply Don't Exist.

Trump's CIA Considered Kidnapping or Assassinating Assange: Report

"The Biden administration must drop its charges against Assange immediately."

Jake Johnson ·


'Carrying Water for Big Corporations': Sinema Faces Backlash for Opposing Tax Hikes

"Make no mistake, if she sides with her wealthy donors and kills popular investments to jump-start the economy, everyday families—including across Arizona—will pay the price."

Jake Johnson ·


UN Chief Warns Humanity Is 'Unacceptably Close to Nuclear Annihilation'

"Now is the time to lift the cloud of nuclear conflict for good," United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres said ahead of the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons.

Jake Johnson ·


Coalition Slams UN Food Summit for Peddling 'Corporate-Led False Solutions' to Hunger

"The U.N. has finally made it clear what 'multilateralism' is all about—paying lip service to the people while skewing priorities for the interests of imperialists and monopoly capitalists."

Jake Johnson ·


'Political Malpractice': House Democrats' Bill Wouldn't Add Dental to Medicare Until 2028

"I don't want to see it drawn out to as far as the House has proposed," Sen. Bernie Sanders said during a recent press call.

Jake Johnson ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.


Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo