Tsipras says rage will force bailout changes
Though they didn't win Sunday's election, Alexis Tsipras says his party has won the argument against the austerity measures keeping Greece in the eurozone and will inevitably come to power
Though they didn't win Sunday's election, Alexis Tsipras says his party has won the argument against the austerity measures keeping Greece in the eurozone and will inevitably come to power.
"What Syriza has been saying all along is that the bailout plan is not viable and cannot go on," party chief Alexis Tsipras told Reuters in his first interview since last Sunday's parliamentary election. "Now they all recognise this."
Indeed, New Democracy won the most seats in the new parliament on a promise to push through spending cuts imposed by European authorities. But after the vote, party chief Antonis Samaras said the eurozone's memorandum of understanding with Greece over its 130-billion-euro bailout should be modified.
Tsipras, a 37-year-old former student communist, predicted that the newly elected Greek government would fail because it was based on "spent political forces", paving the way for Syriza to assume power.
Syriza won 27 per cent of the vote in Sunday's election, up from 17 percent at a previous inconclusive election in May. That made it the second largest party behind New Democracy and delighted its supporters, who partied late into the night outside Athens University after results came in.
Relaxed and confident in his Athens headquarters, where the waiting room sports a portrait of revolutionary icon Che Guevara, Tsipras said: "Nobody else but us can carry out the deep reforms the country needs because we are not corrupt or worn out. Sooner or later, we will get this opportunity."
Tsipras said Syriza's rapid rise showed how Greeks were channelling their rage at the austerity measures - which have sent the economy into a deep recession and pushed unemployment close to 23 per cent - into an alternative political movement.
Given public anger at Greece's long-established parties, he added, "if Syriza didn't exist today the alternative would be extremes, chaos and Golden Dawn".
"We will prepare a lot better to exercise a much more combative and responsible opposition," he pledged. "And, obviously, to organise to be able to claim government when the opportunity arises."
Syriza's key demands are for wealthy tax evaders to be taxed, and for what Tsipras calls "huge and unbelievable waste in the public sector" to be stamped out, by making it function more effectively.
"We have talked about the need to stop people collecting salaries for doing nothing, about reducing the number of ministers' advisers and government officials by half, and curtailing MPs and ministers' wages and privileges," he said.
Tsipras said he opposed the terms of the bailout because it didn't help ordinary Greeks who had suffered most from austerity and recession. "It is a bailout for banks and a sinking of the needs of the real economy and society," he said.
Greek politicians have turned their fire on Germany for insisting on deep spending cuts despite the country's deep recession and Tsipras had a special message for Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Merkel "must not insist on the mistake of austerity", he said. "Europe cannot march on united if it continues to support these barbaric measures."
Citing the spreading of the eurozone crisis to other countries as proof that Greece was not the root cause, Tsipras added: "All those people who said the problem was the lazy Greeks are now seeing the problems in Spain and Italy too. Something else is wrong."
Source: Athens News
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