Alexis Tsipras began by clarifying that his speech did not necessarily contain what SYRIZA would like for the future of Greece, but an approach which it can reasonably guarantee will work, under the circumstances which have been imposed on Greece.
Tsipras’ speech and its proposals by SYRIZA at the Thessaloniki International Fair can be analysed in detail. The figures can be cross-checked to the nth degree, one can look at the basis of the numbers, the emphasis on particular approaches, the winners and losers; it could, in short, be interpreted as the detailed economic programme of a newly elected government, or as a budget handed down by an elected government.
However, if one weighs the political and ideological positioning of the president of SYRIZA, one would find two key principles lie behind the SYRIZA “Budget” as put forth by Tsipras.
Tsipras states that the current government can be considered the political representative of the most serious (and large) tax evaders and therefore not only is it not particularly interested in the crackdown on tax evasion, but can be considered to be on a mission to actually protect it.
This article was writtten by Giorgos Kiritsis and published in Avgi newspaper on 16.9.14 It has been translated from Greek by the Australia-Greece Solidarity Campaign. The original article can be found here
Firstly, the plan of SYRIZA is to resolve the economic crisis in Greece by effectively addressing the severe humanitarian dimensions. All the measures announced by Tsipras, concerning the relief and aid to lower income and working classes, are both: a roadmap out of the crisis; and also provide the necessary stimulus to increase domestic demand (for local products and services).
Unlike the incumbent government, which can only promise IMF style “surpluses” by removing large amounts of money each year from the Greek economy (around € 10 billion), and then giving it to the overseas lenders, Tsipras’ proposal contributes money to the economy instead of removing it.
In fact, unlike the government, which promotes actions that basically direct money to the banks or its “close associates”, and which therefore result in so little money reaching the beneficiaries, the SYRIZA proposal directs money into the hands of those who are most in need.
Further, he talks about realistic economic targets that can be achieved. Not like the government’s unreasonable long-term projections of sustained employment growth percentages of 4 and 5% each year. These are supposed to be achieved at the same time as the government proposes spending reductions in economic activity tailored to the German recipe of austerity and full repayment of debt.
The concept advocated by SYRIZA is clearly based on its ideology and values. From a right-wing or neoconservative perspective, owners, and investors consider providing employment to be a charitable act. Tsipras reminds us that it is the labour and efforts of employees that ultimately increase and produce wealth.
This conservative or right-wing view of “who is giving to who”, in which the provision of employment should be seen as a ‘gift’, is clearly opposed by the Left, which considers the provision of labour a benefit to those who have the available capital or state supported power.
The second most distinctive feature of SYRIZA’s presentation in Thessaloniki is its approach to the issue of tax evasion, not only by the need for its prevalence to be addressed and reduced, but also by its political dimension. Tsipras states that the current government can be considered the political representative of the most serious (and large) tax evaders and therefore not only is it not particularly interested in the crackdown on tax evasion, but can be considered to be on a mission to actually protect it.
The statement by Lagarde in the Financial Times, regarding feeling that her life was threatened when she spoke about tax evaders in Greece, is a curious position, when one considers that Papastaurou, (one of Antonis Samaras closest partners – and on the Lagarde list), was on the government committee sent to Paris to negotiate on behalf on the government. This dichotomy is a vivid illustration of the complexities of the traditional political parties and their backers and favoured friends with respect to tax evasion in Greece.
Tsipras clarified that his speech did not contain what SYRIZA would have liked, but that which it can guarantee under the circumstances.
Two years ago, the situation would have allowed for easier and better measures. In two years from now, if the coalition PASOK – ND still remains in power, the possibilities for effective economic measures will be even less. This is precisely why it is important to put an end soon to this austerity-led march towards the destruction of the Greek economy, and to let a new force take the reins of government; and which will come into political and economic conflict with the “lumpen pseudo-saviours” it currently has as a ruling class. SYRIZA will give new hope to the common people with a new perspective on the country.