On the Cusp of a Historic Change

01/05/2015 11:44 am ET | Updated Mar 07, 2015
  • Alexis Tsipras Leader of the opposition in Greece, president of SYRIZA

Greece is on the cusp of a historic change. SYRIZA is no longer just a hope for Greece and the Greek people. It is also an expectation of a change of course for the whole of Europe. Because Europe will not come out of the crisis without a policy change, and the victory of SYRIZA in the 25th of January elections will strengthen the forces of change. Because the dead end in Greece is the dead end of today's Europe.

On January 25th, the Greek people are called to make history with their vote, to trail a space of change and hope of all people across Europe by condemning the failed memoranda of austerity, proving that when people want to, when they dare, and when they overcome fear, then things can change.

The expectations alone of political change in Greece, has already begun to change things in Europe. 2015 is not 2012

SYRIZA is not an ogre, or a big threat to Europe, but the voice of reason. It's the alarm clock which will lift Europe from its lethargy and sleepwalking. This is why SYRIZA is no longer treated as a major threat like it was in 2012, but as a challenge to change. By all?

Not by all. A small minority, centered on the conservative leadership of the German government and a part of the populist press, insists on rehashing old wives' tales and Grexit stories.

Just like Mr. Samaras in Greece, they can no longer convince anyone. Now that the Greek people have experienced his government, they know how to tell the lies from the truth.

Mr. Samaras offers no other program except continuing with the failed MOU of austerity. It has committed itself and others to new wage and pension cuts, new tax increases, in the framework of accumulated income cuts and over- taxation of six whole years. He asks Greek citizens to vote for him so that he can implement the new memorandum. It is precisely because he has committed to austerity, that he interprets the rejection of this failed and destructive policy as a supposedly unilateral action.

He is essentially hiding that Greece as a Eurozone member is committed to targets and not to the political means by which those targets are achieved.

For this reason, and unlike the ruling party of Nea Dimokratia, SYRIZA has committed to the Greek people to apply from the first days of its' administration a specific, cost-efficient and fiscally balanced program, "The Thessaloniki Program" regardless of our negotiation with our lenders.

With targeted actions to stem the humanitarian crisis. With fiscal justice, so that the financial oligarchy that has been left untouched by the four years of the crisis will finally have to pay. With a plan to relaunch the economy, combat the unprecedented unemployment rate and return to growth.

With sweeping reforms in the modus operandi of the state and the public sector, because our aim is not to return to 2009, but to change everything that led the country to the brink of an economic, but also moral, bankruptcy.

Clientelism, a state that is hostile to its' citizens; tax evasion; tax avoidance; "black" money; fuel and tobacco smuggling; are just a few aspects of a power system that ruled the country for many years. This system led the country to despair and now continues to govern in the name of national emergency and fear of the crisis.

In reality though, this is not fear of the crisis but fear of change. The fear and the guilt of the establishment which led the Greek people to an unprecedented tragedy.

And to those responsible for all this, if they know anything about ancient Greek tragedy, they have every reason to fear because after hubris comes nemesis and catharsis!

Βut the Greek and European people have nothing to fear. Because SYRIZA does not want the collapse but the rescue of the euro. And saving the euro is impossible for the Member States when public debt is out of control.

The debt problem is not only Greek but European. And Europe collectively owes a discussion as well as seeking a sustainable European solution.

SYRIZA and the European Left argue that in the framework of a European agreement, the largest part of the public debt's nominal value has to be written off, a moratorium on its repayment has to be imposed, and a growth clause for servicing the remaining debt has to be introduced, in order to use spare resources towards growth.

We claim repayment conditions which don't lead towards a country suffocating in recession and do not drive people to despair and poverty.

With his position that Greece's debt is sustainable, Mr. Samaras harms Greece. He doesn't just lower the bar for negotiation, but refuses negotiation altogether. If one admits that the debt is sustainable and the memorandum is "a success story," what is there to negotiate?

Today we can discern two diametrically opposed strategies on Europe's future. On the one hand we have a view headed by Mr. Schauble, that regardless of whether the laws and principles that we have agreed on work, we should continue to implement them. On the other, is the strategy of "whatever it takes," -- which was first said by the head of the ECB -- to save the euro. In reality, the forthcoming Greek elections are a collusion of these two different strategies.

I believe the latter will prevail for an extra reason. Because Greece is the country of Sophocles, who with "Antigone" has taught us that there are moments where the supreme law is justice.

This post originally appeared on HuffPost Greece and was translated into English.