Hope Will Defeat Fear – in Greece and in Europe

Austerity has led us to an impasse which can be seen most clearly in Greece. But it is also noticeable everywhere else in Europe. Austerity – apart from being an ineffective and pointless means to combatting the crisis – is now proving treacherous. This is because it continues to change the nature of the crisis.

At the beginning it turned it from a financial crisis into a budget crisis, then from a budget crisis to a crisis of the real economy, and now we are beginning to see the rise of a disinflation crisis.
Disinflation is a predictable side effect of austerity that will aggravate the harmful consequences which resulted from the preceding phases of the crisis and will plunge Europe into yet another recession.
As a negative consequence of its dogmatic insistence on neoliberal austerity policies, the European political establishment is now being forced to put in place readjustment measures for its own survival which, limited though they are, are clearly visible.
This is why we keep insisting that it is time to implement clear political change in Europe.
Because Europe is experiencing an alarming and dangerous shift towards the Right.
A shift which threatens to plunge Europe into the abyss of the extremist and populist Right who simply stand and wait for the inevitable.
This threat has become apparent not only in Greece and in France, but also in Europe’s “model” country, Sweden.
This shows that the neoliberal project has failed.
The risk that Europe might fall back into recession and transmit its crisis to the global economy makes a radical political turnaround necessary.
A radical political turnaround which will probably start in Greece with the future electoral victory of SYRIZA.
We demand an immediate recognition of the people’s will and a strong mandate to negotiate the following objectives:

  • Cutting the majority of the nominal debt in order to make repayments feasible. This was done for Germany in 1953, and in 2014 this should be done for Greece.
  • Introducing a “growth clause” in the repayment of the remaining debt to make sure that repayments are measured according to growth and not budget surplus.
  • Establishing a grace period, i.e. a “moratorium”, to provide economies with resources for economic growth.
  • Excluding the public investment programme from the constraints of the Stability and Growth Pact.
  • Reaching an agreement on a “European New Deal” that involves public investments for growth and which is financed by the European Investment Bank.
  • Implementing a quantitative easing programme run by the European Central Bank and involving the direct acquisition of government bonds.

We demand a strong popular mandate to claim repayment of the forced loans taken out at the time of German occupation and for this to be the government’s stance.
For us, this is not only a bilateral dispute, but a European question which still remains unresolved because it is connected to the final closure of one of the most painful chapters of European history.
And we have set this out clearly to our partners.
We demand a mandate of a parliamentary majority and a collective effort to put an immediate end to austerity.
Only SYRIZA guarantees social, economic and political stability in Greece.
Because we will put an immediate end to austerity and get Greece back to work.
Because only we are able to guarantee jobs, wages and pensions for the average Greek citizen.
Two months ago we developed the detailed and carefully-calculated “Thessaloniki agenda”: a programme to mark transition from poverty to hope.
The non-negotiable and immediately applicable “National reconstruction plan” aims at stemming the humanitarian crisis, providing a fresh start for the economy, recreating jobs and implementing an institutional and democratic reform of the political system.
Since the Thessaloniki agenda, the Greek people are aware that:
There is nothing uncertain about the future of Greece.
There is universal political certainty that the next Greek government will be a SYRIZA government.
SYRIZA’s victory will be a victory for all the people of Europe.
SYRIZA’s victory will be a victory for hope everywhere in Europe, starting from the South.
It will mark the defeat of the strategy of fear.
It will mark the end of austerity.
Before the elections we made it very clear everywhere in Europe that austerity is incompatible with the Left, as well as with Europe.
This is why the SYRIZA government’s victory will not only be important for the Greek people.
It will be important for all citizens, regardless of where they live in Europe.
This will be important for every free man and woman who believes in democracy, social justice, the rule of law, but also in a state which guarantees dignified living conditions for its citizens.
This is why we not only demand active and continuing support for the SYRIZA government from the Greek people; we also demand active support from the social and political forces in Southern Europe, as well as across the whole of Europe, and from all those who oppose austerity and want all of us – together, collectively and in solidarity with each other – to give growth a brand new start.
And soon, by fighting and winning each of our daily battles, be they large or small, the European people will see a brighter day.
Athens, 1 November 2014

Shortened by transform! europe

Translation: Veronika Peterseil 

For the full speech (in French), please click here.