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Another Europe is possible: Syriza and the politics of hope

Submitted by on 12 Mar 2015 – 15:36

The March issue of the Government Gazette offers an extended focus on the implications of the 2015 Greek elections and the eurozone debt crisis. Here, Vice President of the European Parliament, Dimitrios Papadimoulis MEP outlines Syriza’s vision of ending austerity and securing a fairer and more democratic European Union.

Dimitrios Papadimoulis MEP

Dimitrios Papadimoulis MEP

For the last five years our country has been subjected to an unworkable economic experiment, defying economic rationality and social principles and ultimately leading to a humanitarian crisis.

The new Greek government led by Alexis Tsipras has committed to bring back hope, dignity and pride to Greek citizens and to implement a comprehensive policy agenda to deal with the roots of Greece’s socio-economic under-performance.

However, SYRIZA’s route to becoming Europe’s first left government of modern times was neither easy nor inevitable. SYRIZA is the outcome of 15 year collaboration between divergent political groups within the fragmented Greek left, which started at the time of the alter-globalization movement.

We managed though, through hard work, to craft SYRIZA from a loose alliance into a pro-European party that proposed a viable programme to re-establish a basic level of social justice and dignity and to resolve the economic dislocation. The enlarged demand for democracy and justice enabled us to unite broad social segments with diverse political and ideological origins.

“Our common future in Europe is not austerity; it is a future of democracy, solidarity and cooperation.”

On January 25th 2015, Greek citizens sent an unequivocal signal of change and endorsement of the new social contract for political stability and economic security proposed by SYRIZA. They strongly mandated us to terminate the cycle of austerity that has caused economic damage and immense social cost within the European Union.

With that mandate and the commitment to find a solution to the “Greek problem” in order to strengthen our monetary union, we participated in the recent euro group meetings.There, we expressed our intention to cooperate with our partner institutions in good faith, with mutual trust and respect, and a common commitment to the European project.We said that we wish to move forward, on the basis of a new, mutually beneficial agreement.

Syntagma Square (Photograph: Jaume Escofet

Syntagma Square
(Photograph: Jaume Escofet

As we realise that this will take some time, we proposed to work urgently on a “bridge” to safeguard Greece’s liquidity position over the coming months.The common ground of this tight negotiation was the four-month extension of the loan agreement without new austerity measures and a commitment that no unilateral actions will be taken.

We have repeatedly expressed our commitment to:

  • Securing public finances and preserving financial sector stability as far as the quantitative targets in that regard are realistic and reasonable.
  • Delivering deep structural reforms.  We are the only genuinely reform-oriented government because we are not tied to any interest groups. This is well known among our European partners.
  • Implementing policies that will deeply reform Greece’s social economy, reduce rent-seeking, anchor euro membership and reflect the will of the Greek people. These policies will address the humanitarian crisis, enhance social cohesion, restore justice and dignity, put the Greek population back on its feet and foster economic growth.

To achieve this, the Greek government presented to the institutions, on 23rd February 2015, a first comprehensive list of reform measures to be further specified and agreed by the end of April 2015.

On the other hand, our partners should realise that Greece’s 240-billion-euro bailout deal with the E.U. and the IMF is stifling any chance Greece has of recovering from a six-year recession.

The global economic crisis created enormous suffering for billions around the world. But it also created an opening, allowing people to reassess the rules under which they live and work, to challenge those in power, and to demonstrate that another world is possible. Our common future in Europe is austerity; it is a future of democracy, solidarity and cooperation.

Dimitrios Papadimoulis MEP is Vice President of the European Parliament and a member of Syriza and European United Left-Nordic Green Left.