European ParliamentInterviewsParliamentary Questions

Interview to “Gli Stati Generali”: our fight against austerity is positive for Europe




1) The stock exchanges collapsed when the elections were announced in Greece. SYRIZA is worried that fear can influence the vote?

The election campaign is already rife with intervention from establishment forces and investment funds seeking to create a climate of fear amongst Greek voter. They try to convince voters that we need to keep doing the same things that have brought us to disaster.

There are moments, though, when democracy beats fear.

Winds of change are blowing and the peoples of Southern Europe and their sovereign political forces are ready to change course and advance towards a Europe with social justice and popular sovereignty.

After years of social ruin, SYRIZA is offering Greeks that precious thing: hope.

2) What is the program of SYRIZA about the austerity demands of the European Union? In what percentage would you need to cut the debt to reach the EU parameters?

SYRIZA is demanding a negotiated solution. It has conjured up the example of a European debt conference to wipe away a portion of the debt, as happened with Germany in 1953. We want to get relief on a large part of debt and repay through economic growth, rather than from budget cuts. We propose a European new deal backed up by an investment bank; an all-out war against the tax avoidance; an emergency employment program; a raised minimum wage and the restoration of collective bargaining.

3) For 2015, the European Commission has predicted 2.9% growth for the Greek economy and a reduction of unemployment from 26.8 to 25%. Do you think that these figures are insufficient?

In Greece we experience a social devastation caused by over half a decade of austerity measures. Almost a third of the population lives below the European poverty line. Greece’s social safety net and health system have collapsed. What we need to do first, is to address the humanitarian crisis and then to carry out an economic recovery plan and deep reforms in the management of state and public administration that will lead to economic growth and job creation.

As Tsipras declared “It is not a question of what the party likes but what is feasible”

4) Even in case of victory for SYRIZA, you could have no majority in Parliament, what are your potential allies?

SYRIZA’s support is sufficient to secure a workable majority in Greek parliament.

We have repeatedly said, though, that we will seek to rally around us as many forces as possible to secure the implementation of our program. At any case, we will aim for wider consensus.

What is also important is the social leadership. This will depend on the participatory structures and the social movement that will support us after the victorious election.

5) And in Europe who are your partners?

In the European Parliament, SYRIZA is a member of the confederal group European Unitarian Left/Nordic Green Left (GUE/NGL).

SYRIZA wants the EU to abandon crippling austerity policies in favor of quantitative easing and a growth-led recovery.

Therefore, our possible allies are first the anti-austerity democratic forces of southern Europe.

A SYRIZA government could spur on other anti-austerity forces across the continent. It is conceivable that “Podemos” could assume power in Spain later in 2015. In Britain, some polls already have the Greens on up to 9%. The likes of Die Linke in Germany – the country at the very heart of the EU’s austerity drive – could be given a boost, too.

6) Do you think you will be able to influence the social democratic parties in Europe and convince them to support the anti-austerity front?

More and more analysts, scientist and politicians and up to admit that the last five years were a series of policy mistakes: Austerity when economies needed stimulus, paranoia about inflation when the real risk is deflation, and so on.

As Paul Krugman says: “Righteousness is killing the world economy”

In Britain, for instance, many political analysts believe that SYRIZA victory could strengthen those who wish Labour to offer a genuine alternative – or, alternatively, Britain’s own SYRIZA-style party

So 2015 could finally be the year when austerity meets its reckoning across the continent.

7) Let’s imagine SYRIZA wins the election and can govern. If the troika refuses your proposals, what will you do? Would you even threaten the exit from the euro?

The ruling “New Democracy” party and its allies, are trying to portray the election as a referendum on an exit from the euro. Nothing could be further from the truth.

SYRIZA has no intention to make unilateral moves. Actually, we will do everything in our power to keep Greece in the EU and the euro zone.

But we have to keep in mind that historically, the solution to high levels of debt has often involved writing off and forgiving much of that debt Therefore, we believe that we’ll find a solution on debt relief with troika because it is in everyone’s interest.


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