In the weeks following its historic victory in the Greek elections on January 25, 2015, Syriza has been engaged in a bitter struggle. Syriza wants to implement the anti-austerity program it proposed to the Greek people during the election campaign; European elites have declared this to be impossible, and have thrown roadblocks in the way of even the most minimal of the party’s promised reforms—going so far as to challenge Syriza’s right to give food and restore electricity to the poorest sector of the population in the midst of the country’s profound humanitarian crisis.
As the conflict between Greece and the International Monetary Fund, European Commission and European Central Bank (the three formerly known as “the troika,” now renamed “the institutions”) has deepened, Syriza’s popularity within Greece has soared. At the same time, however, an intense debate is emerging among Syriza members and supporters as to what strategy to follow in light of the relentless pressure from European leaders, with no immediate prospect of a positive change. The New York–based Campaign for Peace and Democracy, which has been actively engaged in support for the Greek anti-austerity struggle since 2012, organized a public forum held on February 6, 2015, titled “After the Greek Elections: The Future of Austerity in Greece, Europe and Beyond,” with speakers debating different perspectives.
CPD now follows the forum with further discussion of Greece’s options, beginning with Syriza’s 2014 Thessaloniki Program, the basis on which the party campaigned for the January 25 elections, and an overview by Sarah Leonard that provides context for the policy debate, plus nine selected articles representing differing viewpoints. The first by Tom Walker is followed by interviews conducted by Sebastian Budgeon with Stathis Kouvelakis and Costas Lapavitsas. Next are articles by Michael Roberts, Kouvelakis, Barry Finger, James K. Galbraith and Maria Margaronis. Each article is preceded by a brief introduction and summary. We are grateful to Barry Finger for preparing this introductory material. The articles are followed by links to the report of the Hellenic League for Human Rights documenting the horrific human rights abuses produced by the austerity crisis, and to an extensive ongoing reference list on the Greek situation provided by the Canadian Socialist Project.
Readers may find it helpful in understanding the array of technical terms and references to consult a glossary provided here that was featured in The Wall Street Journal.
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Syriza’S Thessaloniki Programme (September 2014)
Both an election platform (statement of priorities) and a governmental action program for national reconstruction by the Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA), the Thessaloniki Program, released in September 2014, is a set of policy proposals designed to reverse austerity, relieve the humanitarian crisis, deepen democracy and revive the Greek economy within the formal context of a balanced budget. The program calls for a European New Deal, a European debt conference to write off part of the existing debt and to restructure remaining debt obligations based on future growth. It calls for expanded public investment financed off-budget (free from the restrictions of the Stability and Growth Pact) by the European Investment Bank. It was declared to be “not negotiable” by Syriza’s party leader, Alexis Tsipras (Greek Reporter, Jan. 12, 2015).