If he’s ever elected, major opposition Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZ) leader Alexis Tsipras said he would veto any European Union decision requiring unanimity to make the country’s international lenders better the terms of their bailout deals – even if it meant losing the lifeline rescue aid that is all that is keeping the economy from collapsing, he said.
Greece is surviving on two bailouts of $325 billion from the Troika of the European Union-International Monetary Fund-European Central Bank (EU-IMF-ECB) that came with conditions of attached austerity measures that have worsened the country’s recession, now in a sixth year, created record unemployment and put 20 percent of the people into poverty while roiling social unrest.
“No decision will be taken at the EU if our demand for a viable solution to be found for Greece is not met,” Tsipras said in an interview with the protesting employees of former public TV channel ET3 in Thessaloniki. SYRIZA is opposed to the bailout deals being imposed by Prime Minister Antonios Samaras, the New Democracy Conservative leader and his coalition partner and ideological rival, the PASOK Socialists.
Tsipras said that his party is “completely prepared” for the possibility that the Troika would cut off funding to Greece in response to a move by a SYRIZA government to buck the terms of the Troika bailout. But he said it wouldn’t come to that because the Troika is fearful of the ramifications that would have in isolating Greece and threatening the Eurozone.
He didn’t add though what he would do if the Troika funding stops because the country is broke. Despite that, he said he wouldn’t fire any workers, would restore all pay cuts, lower all tax hikes and keep spending at the same breakneck pace that created the crisis, a mathematical possibility since there isn’t enough money to do that. That has led to criticism in his own party that he doesn’t have a clue to govern while other critics say he is just being a ranting populist.
With SYRIZA and New Democracy running neck-and-neck in polls, Tsipras called for voters to make May’s European elections a test for the coalition government. “I have doubts that we will get that far without having national elections, but if we do, the European ballot will be a referendum on the memorandum policies,” he said.
He said the government’s survival depended on how much pressure the Troika keeps imposing even as it’s in tough talks with the government over delayed reforms, the failure to go after tax cheats and other lagging programs, before releasing a delayed one billion euro ($1.37 billion installment and whether new measures will be needed to plug a hole of as much as 2.9 billion euros ($3.87 billion) in the 2014 budget.
He said if his party comes to power that he too would seek a coalition to broaden its base beyond its loose collections of Maoists, Trotskyites, anarchists, communists, ecologists and the like and that he would even take in New Democracy and PASOK politicians if they followed his lead although he blames them for all the country’s ills.
“I’m not asking for anyone to recant,” he said. “We will not exorcise the MPs within the government that disagree with policy,” he said. Samaras and PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos usually toss lawmakers from their parties for not following orders on how to vote as they are told, undercutting the country’s supposed democracy.