ATHENS – With their parties essentially tied in popular support, SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras, who has spent the last 18 months sniping at the ruling coalition led by Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, the New Democracy Conservative leader, said the leftists will take office next year because he believes the results of European Parliament elections will discredit the government.
In a speech at an American-Hellenic Chamber of Commerce conference in Athens Tsipras laid out three vague policies he would follow if he becomes Prime Minister. He has opposed austerity measures attached to two bailouts of $325 billion but has backed away from his former stance that he would yank Greece out of the Eurozone.
Tsipras said that the three reforms SYRIZA would carry out would be creating a “simple, transparent, stable and effective” tax system; building an “anti-bureaucratic and effective” public administration that would be “weaned off party dependency, exchanges of favors and lack of meritocracy;” and fighting cartels “with anti-oligopolistic legislation and a truly independent… Competition Commission.”
He didn’t provide any details on what any of those meant. But while SYRIZA and New Democracy are deadlocked – Samaras’ partner the PASOK Socialists are floundering near the bottom of the polls – voters by a wide margin prefer Samaras as Premier and another new poll showed 70.1 percent of Greeks think SYRIZA hasn’t offered any alternatives to the rescue packages from the Troika of the European Union-International Monetary Fund-European Central Bank (EU-IMF-ECB).
Tsipras also appealed to the business community to help “rebuild the country.” He said that SYRIZA would be open to working with foreign “investors and agencies” on “cooperative forms of economy and growth-inducing projects” but ruled out privatizations.
Speaking later to the Financial Times, Tsipras insisted that a SYRIZA government would seek to replace the terms of Greece’s bailout and would ask for debt relief by convincing skeptics in the Eurozone that this would be in their own interests.
“We say to the taxpayers of Germany: for a long time you paid money for Greek banks, not Greek people, and you pay money in programs that are programmed to fail,” he said. “You have to stop this procedure. If you continue this procedure, you will never stop paying.”