On January 25th, the Greek leftist political party Syriza took control of parliament under the leadership of new Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras. While the many predicted the victory, the shock was still felt through the EU. Responses to this radical shift in politics have varied throughout the different regions and economic classes of Greece; for the working class, many of whom are still looking for jobs after being laid off during the economic crisis, the win for Syriza was a huge step in the right direction.
Syriza is an invigorating and vivacious force in the Greek political spectrum. Formed in 2004, Syriza stems from a coalition of leftist political parties formed around Alexis Tsipras’ Synaspismos Party. It is a hybrid of the modern left. Syriza stands to bring much progression to freedom of speech and expression, and as Stathis Kouvelakis, a political theory instructor at King’s College London, said in an interview with Jacobin Magazine: “[Syriza] is a party that’s at ease among feminist movements, youth mobilizations, alter-globalization, and antiracist movements and LGBT currents, while also continuing to make a considerable intervention in the trade union movement.” The people of Greece and all other EU countries now wait as an anxious audience ready to observe a metamorphosis in Greek economics.
Since the economic crisis of 2008, life in Greece has been tumultuous, to say the least. Unemployment grew to over 25 percent and minimum wages dropped by a third. Many Greeks ceased being on the electrical grid. Some with advanced educations chose to leave Greece and look for valuable work elsewhere in the EU or abroad. Syriza maintains that they will change all that, planning to increase minimum wage and reconnect everyone to electricity. Workers have put faith in Syriza because their goals are clear and simply defined, and Syriza has already taken steps to prove such claims were not empty words. It will not be easy – estimates see the plan as costing Greece roughly 11 billion euros in revenue to stimulate the economy, but taxing the big media corporations will be the primary source of raising such large funds. A debt haircut from Germany would help, but this seems improbable and absurd, considering everything Germany has already done to help Greece. Syriza has already begun scrapping old government ideas and programs – ceasing economic privatization, a condition for one of their European bailout programs, making plans to rehire public sector workers previously laid off and attempting to halt austerity. Syriza plans to enact an upheaval of harsh budgetary conditions that were agreed upon during their bailout agreement, bringing disapproval to Germany and other EU partners. To some, the future of Greece looks bright and ripe for positive change, while to others it seems full of ominous uncertainty and danger.