Tsipras Calls for Mass Protests Against Austerity

SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras says he’s standing by to be Greece’s new leader if the government falls

Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) leader Alexis Tsipras has dismissed hopes that Greece would get  two-year extension to meet reduce its deficit and impose more austerity on orders of international lenders as a failed scheme he said would mean only “more rope to hang ourselves with.”

He also said that Greeks should take to the streets en masse to protest another 11.5 billion euros or $14.6 billion in cuts demanded by international lenders that the uneasy coalition government of Prime Minister Antonis Samaras is ready to impose, primarily aimed at workers, pensioners and the poor.

Tsipras, who finished a close second to the New Democracy Conservative leader in the June 17 elections, said he would be ready to govern “tomorrow” if the government falls, but offered no solutions to the crushing economic crisis.

Greece is being kept alive by a first series of $152 billion in rescue loans from the Troika of the European Union-International Monetary Fund-European Central Bank (EU-IMF-ECB) and awaiting the last installment, of $38.8 billion, this month, without which there won’t be money to pay workers and pensioners. A second bailout, for $173 billion, is on hold until the government, which also includes the PASOK Socialists and Democratic Left, makes more cuts and institutes further reforms.

The monies though came with conditions of deep pay cuts, tax hikes and slashed pensions and Samaras has been publicly pleading for another two years, until 2016, to meet the demands and there are signs that Troika officials are willing to grant it. Tsipiras though said it would do nothing to help the economy.

Speaking to reporters at the Thessaloniki International Fair, an event that Samaras ducked, the Leftist leader said that, “We are being led into a drawn-out ordeal. The climate is changing, but for the worse and if the government does eventually succeed in passing the measures for 11.5 billion euros it will have little chance of longevity.”

He said Samaras was looking for a “golden mean” with the Troika by requesting a two-year extension to the period during which it has committed to implementing a series of painful cost-cutting and structural reform measures in exchange for bailout funding. “But all it will do is make the rope with which we hang ourselves longer,” Tsipras said. “What is important to us is that we do not continue down the slippery slope of disaster,” he added.

Tsipras cautioned however, that he has no panacea and said if SYRIZA took over that, “The road will not be paved with a red carpet and rose petals,” adding that “No one will be saved by placing their hopes on SYRIZA to save them; we can all be saved together if we take our fates into our own hands,” he said, urging mass public protests against the planned measures. Several sectors of workers have already conducted strikes and the country’s two largest public and private labor unions are planning a general strike and mass protest on Sept. 26.

Samaras said that Tsipras’ actions would force Greece out of the Eurozone, back to the ancient drachma and into complete collapse and chaos and has depicted the Leftist leader as reckless and irresponsible.