Syriza leader Alexis Tsipras at a rally in Athens last week. Photo: EPA/Orestis Panagiotou
The consistent level of support for SYRIZA ahead of Greece’s snap general election shows that the party is on course to win a ‘clear mandate’ to deliver its anti-austerity agenda.
So says Oxford Economics – one of the world’s leading global forecasting groups – who number-crunched the last 20 Greek opinion polls that suggest SYRIZA’s support is sufficient to gain a workable majority.
According to OE’s report, around 36 per cent of the final vote on January 25 is the threshold SYRIZA needs to make a strong anti-austerity government achievable.
SYRIZA’s performance has been consistent with consecutive polls conducted in recent weeks, and has soared to over 40 per cent of the vote (on average) in the last five polls.
The report points out that New Democracy could close the gap if they portray the election as effectively a referendum on exiting the euro.
Meanwhile, Greek Australian politicians – past and present – gave Neos Kosmos their reflections on the election, and the stark choice facing Greek voters.
Former SA Federal Labor MP Steve Georganas, who met with Syriza leader Alexis Tsipras in Athens last year, said that the election was not “a choice between stability and mayhem, as it’s being painted by some people. I think Syriza understand the responsibilities of government.
“It’s more of a choice between the same old belt-tightening and people suffering, or a new way of negotiating with Europe,” said the former Member of Hindmarsh.
Fellow South Australian, State Treasurer Tom Koutsantonis said that whatever the outcome, he hoped Greece would be “the master of its own destiny” and remain in the European Union. “I hope the new Parliament can work together for the betterment of the people of the Hellenic Republic.”
In Victoria, Federal Labor MP Maria Vamvakinou said that the demise of PASOK and George Papandreou’s decision to split what is left of the party his father founded, was disappointing.
“Too many minor parties at this stage threaten political stability and what Greece needs is stability and resolve otherwise it’s future is bleak, and the future of its young people bleaker still.
“I agree with the sentiment that I heard so often said in the streets in Greece…..’we have to learn to live within our means.’
Ms Vamvakinou added that Greece’s continuation in the eurozone was critical to the country’s future prosperity.
“I do not believe Greece has a positive future if it decided to exit the euro. I believe most Greeks want to remain in the eurozone, despite their outward frustration with Europe and the Troika.”
Newly-elected Victorian MP Philip Dalidakis echoed the sentiment, saying: “As difficult as life seems now, being a member state of the EU provides a number of important trade and cultural protections as well as other advantages.”
Mr Dalidakis warned that the election would not “provide a quick fix to the systemic problems faced by the Greek economy,” and that “only hard work, patience and perseverance can do that.”
Fellow Labor state member for Oakleigh, Steve Dimopoulos said that above all, Greece’s future must be determined by its citizens, rather than powerful forces outside the country.
“There has been a vast amount of commentary coming from other countries, as well international financial institutions, about what the Greek people should do,” he said.
“I believe only the Greek people are best placed to decide their country’s future, without undue interference and influence by external bodies.
“The Hellenic people have shown over thousands of years that they have courage and ingenuity and while I am under no illusion there are difficult times still ahead, I’m hopeful that January 25 provides the impetus and the road map that will again bring prosperity”.
Speaking in Chalkida this week, Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras said that if Syriza’s policies were applied, Greece would lose all EU funding, including the credit extension from the European Central Bank.
Mr Samaras said the party was intent on “discussing from scratch all EU rules, something that cannot be done. Some people are trying to blow up all our achievements.”
The PM pledged that pensions and wages would not be reduced further and that Syriza “serves the interests of those who have become comfortable and of the drachma speculators.”
Meanwhile in an interview with British media, Alexis Tsipras said if his party came to power Greece would not be forced out of the euro, as the EU “understand that the problem is not a Greek problem. It’s a European problem”.
“If Greece goes outside Europe, the eurozone…he next day, the markets will try and find who will be the next. And the next is Italy, with 1.9trillion in euros debt – not like Greece. We have only 350bn”.
Asked if a Syriza government would honour commitments made by Greece to the EU, Mr Tsipras said that he would be obliged to keep the basic commitments which come with the terms of Greece’s admission in the EU.
“It is not one of the founding principles either of EU or eurozone to implement austerity programmes that have already failed.
“What we will do is to cancel the programmes that are sinking us into recession and renegotiate on a European level the necessary changes that will change the difficult economic situation in Greece and in Europe.”
Mr Tsipras reiterated that it was not Syriza’s wish for Greece to leave the eurozone.
“Even if we go back to the drachma, we will be faced with a reality where we have to pay salaries in a cheap currency… but rich people will have their money in euros abroad and they will be able to come and buy everything here.
“It is not our choice to return to the drachma and we will do whatever is possible to avoid something like this.”
Additional sources: ANA-MPA/Channel 4