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Syriza and the Anti-Austerity Agenda

On January 25th, 2015 a major election was held in Greece that marked the beginning of a new political and economic movement. Since the early mid-2000’s, Greece has suffered from severe economic recessions, resulting in the country being forced to accept a conditional bailout. This deal consists largely of privatization measures and economic reforms. It has remained of critical importance that Greece continues to take measures to recover their economy, and with the outcome from their most recent election, drastic changes are inevitably going to occur.

The far-left Syriza party led by Alexis Tsipras won the majority in the election this past week with 149 seats out of the 300. Increasing their seats from 78 since the last election, this anti-austerity party was only two seats off from an absolute majority. The Hellenic parliament held this legislative election much earlier than anticipated in correspondence to Greece’s failure to elect a new president by the end of December 2014.

With Greece at the center of the euro crisis, this early election is not putting European cities at ease- instead, it is causing a political and economic crisis. Although the stock market itself has been the source of considerable controversy, stocks have greatly decreased within the past week. Additionally, on a political level, the majority of voters in Greece have rejected the core policies offered from this Eurozone crisis. If voters really did not believe something better was possible for their country, the Syriza party would not have won. For the past six years, the government policy in Greece has been symbolic of the terrible hardship and depression levels of unemployment that have resulted from austerity.

To the millions of Greek citizens who brought success to the Syriza party, they have new amendments to look forward to. The political mandate of this party is to first renegotiate the terms of austerity, which had been imposed by the IMF and EU creditors. Tsipras had stated his leadership will bring an end to the austerity measures taken on by Greece. However contrary to his commitments, there are multiple ministers claiming that his movements will not be effective. Jeroen Dijsselbloem, President of Eurogroup, has claimed after a Eurozone finance meeting that regardless of the country’s leadership and present economic situation, bailout conditions will not be rearranged. The members must abide by the rules and commitments enforced, and furthermore stated that it is not plausible for Greeks to expect renegotiations. This idea has also been stressed by German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, saying that there will not be bailout money without continued austerity, hence no terms shall be negotiated. Nevertheless, if they do win their negotiations, other anti-austerity parties will grow. Moreover, Syriza’s success could energize other populist movements and other bailout recipients like Scotland and Portugal to view the Eurozone as not credible, and prompt a revolt against the pervasive Eurozone policies of reduced spending and expenditures.

In contrast to the moderate approach of Eurozone, Greeks have become more radical, and are supporting this comparatively young and radicalized party. The refusal of the European hierarchy to compromise with the Syriza party might cause further radical movements and profound changes on a political and economic level. Tsipras wants to keep the euro, but end the condition associated with the bailout. They have also made promises to reverse years of public spending cuts, promote lower unemployment, and fight poverty. Greece’s future will definitely be fascinating to watch in the upcoming period for their prolonging of debt and changes in political power that are bound to foster a paradigm shift in the Greek citizenry’s conception of economics.

Image License: Some rights reserved Uwe Hiksch

About Gabriela Navarrete

Gabriela Navarrete is presently completing her undergraduate studies in Political Science at Concordia University. Her focal interests consist of Latin American politics and the United Nations. She enjoys focusing on current events and policies. Additionally, Gabriela loves learning about wine and exploring different culinary dishes.

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