In 2010 Greece secured two bailouts worth €240 billion ($293 billion) from the International Monetary Fund, European Commission and European Central Bank, in return for wide reaching economic reforms.
The Greek government had to curtail intensely dependent social welfare programs. The number of homeless people in the Greek capital shot up as unemployment skyrocketed and businesses collapsed. Greece’s jobless rate currently stands at around 25% – and double that figure for young people.
In comes Alex Tsipras, leader of the far-left Syriza party, who surged in popularity on an anti-austerity platform. He promised everyone the entire country could go back on government welfare. Though vague on details, the party has promised to renegotiate the terms of the country’s bailout and deliver relief to fed up Greeks.
The elderly Greeks dependent on Pensions protested last year against steeper cuts to retirement benefits. Syriza, and Alex Tsipras promised to increase pensions, as well as introduce billions more in spending programs that would hike wages. Again, no-one said how.
Greece’s bailout program was due to end in December 2014 but it was extended for two months. International aid has kept Greece afloat and within the eurozone, but left it saddled with a mountain of debt worth about 170% of GDP. This is the backdrop for today’s election:
(VIA CNN) Vowing to end austerity measures, left-wing Syriza party leader Alexis Tsipras declared victory in Greece’s election Sunday.
“Greece leaves behind the austerity that ruined it, leaves behind the fear, leaves behind five years of humiliation, and Greece moves forward with optimism and hope and dignity,” he told a crowd of cheering supporters.
Tsipras said he’d make good on his campaign promise to renegotiate the terms of Greece’s bailout.
“We are regaining our lost dignity … Now that we are heard by all of Europe, we will fight with the same passion, the same confidence. So let’s go and let’s all continue this beautiful and tough fight,” he said.
[…] Alexis Tsipras, the party’s firebrand leader who is poised to become prime minister, made a promise that resonated with voters on the campaign trail: “No more bailouts, no more submission, no more blackmailing.” (read more)
(Via Bloomberg) The following are the main campaign pledges and the economic-policy platform of Syriza, which won national elections in Greece Sunday.
Syriza’s 40-year-old leader Alexis Tsipras, who is now the country’s prime minister-in-waiting, made the pledges in the party’s election prospectus and on the campaign trail.
Addressing supporters in Athens late on Sunday, he said the Syriza government’s priority will be “for Greece and its people to regain their lost dignity.”
— Syriza would negotiate a writedown on Greece’s debts with the troika of official creditors and demand a grace period before repayments start, to free up funds to boost growth. It would also insist that public investment be excluded from European Union deficit calculations and broker an EU-wide program of public investment. Tsipras, in his victory address, declared the troika era to be over.
— A Syriza government would stop the pursuit of “unrealistic” primary budget surpluses while pursuing balanced budgets that exclude public investment
— It would negotiate with the troika to agree mechanisms to boost growth to benefit all citizens, including the poor
— The government would protect the banking system within the framework of the European Central Bank and guarantee Greek citizens’ deposits
— Straight away, Syriza would introduce an aid program for the poor and low-income pensioners, including free power, food vouchers, medical care, travel privileges, a tax break on heating oil
— Small and medium-sized enterprises would get support and the government would increase revenue by granting special arrangements for companies to pay arrears
— The government would establish a state-owned development bank and specific government lenders to finance smaller companies and farmers
— By the end of 2015, Syriza would abolish property tax and stop banks foreclosing on primary residences or auctioning off homes
— Syriza would change the tax system to make it “fair” with the first 12,000 euros ($14,000) a year of income exempt from levies
— It would raise the minimum wage to 751 euros a month from 580 euros a month for all workers, restore collective labor agreements, regulate against mass dismissals and create 300,000 jobs in private, public and “social” sectors
— Syriza would cut the number of ministries to 10 from 18
— The government would stop all sales of state assets (read more)