Friday, January 16, 2015

Syriza moves to the middle as it seeks to win Greek election

In In order to gain enough votes to win elections leftist parties often jettison their more radical positions in order to attract voters more to the middle of the political spectrum. This is clearly a strategy that Syriza is pursuing.

The leader of Syriza, Alex Tsipras, has stressed recently that he does not want Greece to leave the Euro zone. He expresses optimism about creating conditions for repaying Greek debts:Tsipras reiterated that he wanted Greece to stay in the euro zone. "Our goal is to reach a new agreement -- within the euro zone -- that would allow the Greek people to breathe ... and to live in dignity by restoring debt sustainability and finding a way out of recession through financing growth," Syriza is either abandoning or not mentioning many of the policy planks adopted at its first Congress in July of 2013. The policies are set out in detail here. The policies include the following: "..withdrawal from NATO, closure of all foreign military bases, termination of military cooperation with Israel...and the application of the principle “no Greek soldier at war fronts outside Greece’s border”. The struggle for peace and nuclear disarmament is of top priority for SYRIZA and it is closely related to the struggle for democracy." Tsipras on Twitter the other night said: “A breach with NATO is not in the interest of the country.” He went on to say that Greece is bound by and will comply with international agreements that it has with the EU and NATO. As Eirini Karamouzi, of the University of Sheffield put it: “The flagship of their policy is debt relief, and their main preoccupation will be domestic. There’s no bargaining chip for Greece right now to lead on the main foreign-policy fronts.”

 The mainstream business press rather than becoming less strident in their critique of Syriza has suffered from bouts of hyperventilation at the thought of Syriza taking power, resulting in extremist rhetorical polemics: The Wall Street Journal has called SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras “the Hugo Chavez of the Balkans”, saying that his economic program will set him on a “collision course with the rest of Europe”. Bank of America Merrill Lynch described the SYRIZA economic program as a “Greek Tragedy”, and a senior analyst with the Capital Group, a fund with US$1.4 trillion in assets, described SYRIZA’s program as “worse than communism” and “total chaos”.

Syriza does still seem to be on a collision course but with the Troika, rather than with Europe as a whole, since France and Italy also oppose the strict adherence to austerity policies that the Germans are pushing. Syriza and the situation in Greece represent the same discontent with austerity policies that can be found in many southern European countries. Ian Kearns, of the European Leadership Network claims: “This is much more about a crisis of European politics now and whether particularly the southern European publics are willing to stay with this project if it means almost endless austerity.This all potentially contributes to a less cohesive Europe, to a weaker Europe.” The European status quo is also threatened by the growth of parties on the right as well as those on the left such as Syriza.

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