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article imageLeftist Syriza party poised for victory in Greek election

By Ken Hanly     Jan 22, 2015 in Politics
Athens - In an attempt to reassure the EU public and officials that a Syriza victory is not a threat to the EU, leader Alex Tsipras, has published opinion pieces in both the FInancial Times and earlier in a German newspaper, Handelsblatt.
In the Financial Times article, Tsipras promised that Syriza would not only respect European Union fiscal rules but would also commit to their targets on eliminating the deficit. Tsipras is trying to convince Greek creditors that his victory is not a threat to them or EU unity. At the same time Tsipras reiterates his demand for a " new social contract" and an end to austerity requirements, claiming that this would lead to "political stabililty and economic security". Tsipras also promised: “A Syriza government will respect Greece’s obligation, as a eurozone member, to maintain a balanced budget, and will commit to quantitative targets." Tsipras also spoke of a write off of some Greek debt as something that could be done cooperatively and without conflict: “We have a duty to negotiate openly, honestly and as equals with our European partners. There is no sense in each side brandishing its weapons.”
While all this sounds very promising and accommodating, officials of the Troika, the International Monetary Fund, European Commission, and the European Central Bank may not be willing to make changes to the austerity conditions demanded for the Greek bailout. German Finance Minister Wolgang Schaueble has stressed many times that the radical changes sought by Tsipras are not even up for negotiation at all. In a television interview Dutch Finance Minister. Jeroen Dijsselbloem , said: "There's no political support to write off Greek debt". Tsipras' demands include a write off of some of the Greek debt. The Dutch minister did suggest that easier repayment terms might be arranged if conditions required that.
Syriza or Coalition of the Radical Left, is an alliance of many different types of leftists including a variety of socialists including Marxists, Maoists, Trotskyists and Greens.The Communist Party of Greece is not a member of the alliance even though Tsipras was himself once a member of the party. He stayed the Sinaspismos party when the communist party exited that group. He was president of the party for some time. The party is the largest group within Syriza.
A poll released by the University of Macedonia on Tuesday showed that Syriza had a 6.5 percentage point lead on its nearest rival prime minister Samaras' center right New Democracy party.
A graph chart of the average of recent polls can be found here. The graph shows Syriza with 35 percent of the vote compared to New Democracy at 31. A new party To Potami also left-leaning has 6.5 percent of the vote. Golden Dawn a radical right anti-immigrant party, with several prominent members in jail, nevertheless has 6 percent of the vote, and finally the Greek Communist Party KKE has 5.5 percent of the votes. The party that gets the highest number of votes get an extra 50 seats making it easier to form a coalition government. The leader of To Potami has not ruled out joining in with Syriza to form a government so Syriza does not need a majority in order to form a government. There are other minor parties who might join a coalition as well.
The Greek stock and bond markets seem not be soothed by Tsipras' attempts to dampen establishment fears. Greek bonds had the worst returns last month of any sovereign issues. Over the same period the Athens stock exchange performed worst of all major equity markets. The real drama will begin when the results of the Greek elections this Sunday begin to come in.
More about SYRIZA, Greek elections, greek austerity
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