Wednesday, 21 January 2015
SYRIZA ON COURSE FOR FAMOUS VICTORY IN GREEK GENERAL ELECTION
From Syriza HQ, Leonidas, Athens, Greece The latest opinion polls here in Greece show 'Syriza' [pronounced 'CeeReeZa' and meaning the Coalition of the Radical Left] increasing its lead over the conservative New Democracy to 5.5%. This means the party looks set to become the biggest party in the new Greek parliament on Sunday. As Greece has a PR system of elections it is touch and go whether Syriza will have an overall majority to allow it to govern alone or must rely on the support of one or two smaller parties. If it does triumph it will be the first radical left-wing Government to be elected in Europe since WW2. This does not of course mean that everyone who votes for them on Sunday is a socialist, or a former Communist like Syriza's leader Alexis Tsipras. It means that Greeks have voted for the radical left because they are a the end of their tethers. Unemployment in Greece is a 27%. For young people its 65%. Pensions, salaries and the national minimum wage have been cut by 40% in the last 5 years. There is visible and widespread impoverishment across the country. Greece owes 319bn Euro's to the European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund and cannot possibly pay it back. It relies to a huge extent on 'bail-out' money from these same creditors. Having voted for PASOK [the Labour Party equivalent in Greece] in the past and New Democracy more recently only to find them impose crippling austerity programmes they have now turned in desperation to Syriza. Tsipras has promised to renegotiate the ECB/IMF loans to get 50% written off and to return pensions, wages and benefits to 2008 levels. He has also promised to create 300,000 new jobs and ensure every Greek can afford electricity. The election campaign in Athens is everywhere with billboards, marquees and campaigners all over the city. Even the Community party [KKE] has its own commercial advertising billboards and bus stop posters. Tomorrow night in Omonia Square in the heart of Athens Syriza stages its final election rally with Alexis Tspras joined by Pablo Iglesias of Podemos from Spain and guess from all over Europe including the Scottish Socialist Party. It promises to be a night like no other and I will post photographs here afterwards.