Greece, Syriza and Strings of the EU: Radical Change or Pragmatism?
Nuray Lydia Oglu and Lee Jay Walker
Modern Tokyo Times
Alexis Tsipras was elected the new leader of Greece after the far-left political party Syriza emerged to be the new power broker. Syriza and the much smaller Greek Independents have formed a coalition based on anti-austerity motives. However, it remains to be seen if real radical changes will be implemented, or if Syriza will focus on pragmatism and reaching a deal with the European Union (EU) – only time will tell.
Jean-Claude Juncker, head of the European Commission, is in no doubt that Greece must focus on fiscal measures based on responsibility. Juncker did congratulate the new leader of Greece but this was followed by EU concerns. Therefore, Juncker stated the need of “ensuring fiscal responsibility” to Tsipras because of the dire economic situation that besets Greece at the moment.
It appears that the market currently believes that Syriza will focus on economic pragmatism. Given this reality, after early falls of several important European stock markets this was followed by a rise. This will please Syriza because the last thing that Greece needs is overreaction based on negativity.
Of course, the alternative view to the lack of market concerns could be that if Greece breaks free from the Eurozone, then this isn’t so negative providing other nations don’t follow suit. If this is true, then market volatility within the Eurozone will not emerge to any serious degree if Syriza does indeed challenge the status quo.
Deutsche Welle reports that some doubts persist about the path that will be taken by Syriza because this media group reports: “That Tsipras is not forming a coalition with the centrist To Potami has raised concerns that the new prime minister plans to take a very tough line with rescue lenders. Syriza rode to victory on their promise to renegotiate Greece’s tough bailout measures, and revoke many of the painful austerity laws associated with it.”
Similar doubts can be witnessed by the words of Yanis Varoufakis. He stresses that “fiscal waterboarding policies” based on austerity measures “have turned Greece into a debt colony.”
Irrespective of what policies Syriza will take now that powers have been bestowed on this political party. Gavin Hewitt, the BBC, rightly points out that: “Sunday’s result means that a majority of voters in Greece have essentially rejected a core policy for dealing with the eurozone crisis as devised by Brussels and Germany.”
Enormous budget cuts were enforced on Greece by the EU, International Monetary Fund and the European Central Bank – this in turn led to mass unemployment and the genuine feel that a diktat was being enforced onto Greece. Syriza, and other political parties opposed to these measures, built on this mass discontent within the body politic of modern day Greece. The upshot of this was the final election result that installed Syriza into political power based on the democratic result.
Since the 2008 international financial meltdown the nation of Greece, and others within the EU, has suffered enormously. This notably applies to mass unemployment, increasing poverty, alienation of the younger generation and a genuine feeling that outside forces were now pulling the strings.
The BBC reports: “On Sunday, Mr Tsipras told jubilant supporters he wanted to write off half of Greece’s debt, but was ready to negotiate “a viable solution” and wants the country to stay in the eurozone.”
It is hoped that pragmatism will emerge within Greece and in the corridors of power in the EU. Of course, it is clear that all sides will be a little tentative at first therefore now is the right time to seek a genuine solution to a very complex crisis. However, a viable economic and political solution must be found internally within Greece. Therefore, powerful EU nations, notably Germany, must refrain from pressurizing the newly elected government of Syriza.
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