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NYT op-ed: Only the Left Can Save Greece

Samaras’ coalition government did not fall apart, the prime minister of Greece survived another crisis, however   the risk of early elections has not being averted. The economic austerity circumstances make the survival of any coalition government and Samaras in PM-chair for another three years almost impossible. Just to add some spice in the Greek political mixed grill, the New York Times apparently felt the need to publish an opinion article with the indeed very ambitious and promising title: “Only the Left can save Greece”. Whereas, with Left is meant only main opposition party SYRIZA and not the communists of KKE or even Samaras’ defiant coalition partner Democratic Left, a party established by former SYRIZA and socialist PASOK members. Or even a coalition of the three.

But the article is primarily addressing the US-policy and EU policy makes and not the Greeks – who will have first to cast a vote for Syriza & Alexis Tsipras and allow him to save them from the austerity disaster.

On the occasion of the political crisis in Greece after Prime Minister Antonis Samaras shutdown public broadcaster ERT,  Greece’s prominent economist Yiannis Varoufakis and his colleague James K. Galbraith try to convince actually the USA and the EU that Alexis Tsipras in power would be at not time a danger neither for the Greek-American relations not for the Eurozone or the European Union itself.

Below some excerpts from NYT “Only the Left can save Greece

Greece’s prime minister, Antonis Samaras, closed ERT to meet European demands for public-sector cuts. If his coalition partners don’t fall in line, there will be new elections in which they will be destroyed. But Mr. Samaras may have overreached.

Despite its flaws, ERT is the only mass forum for public discourse that Greeks have; closing it took all noncommercial political discourse and local news off the air. Now, the government has turned a murky debate over austerity, confidence and credit markets into an open fight over democracy and national independence. In that fight, Syriza stands as the alternative, and Mr. Tsipras now has a chance of becoming prime minister.

If he succeeds, nothing vital would change for the United States. Syriza doesn’t intend to leave NATO or close American military bases. Of course, American complicity in the Greek dictatorship of 1967 to 1974 hasn’t been forgotten, and any Greek government will naturally disagree with the United States, to a degree, over the Middle East. But the fact is, Greece’s problem today is with Europe, and Mr. Tsipras doesn’t want to pick a fight with Washington.

The global financial sector would view a Syriza victory with horror. But banks and hedge funds know that most Greek debt is held by European taxpayers and by the European Central Bank, and what’s left is being snapped up by investors because they know it will be paid. Big Finance is worried about what may happen elsewhere if a left-wing party wins in Greece. This instinct is natural for bankers. But for the American government to adopt the same fear-driven stance would be strategically shortsighted.

Indeed, right now, Syriza may be Europe’s best hope. Greeks neither want to leave the euro nor see the euro zone disintegrate, an eventuality likely to bring down the European Union. They also know that Europe’s approach to the crisis, involving increasingly harsh austerity and larger loans, has failed miserably.


Syriza plans to fight both rising hunger and a xenophobic neo-Nazi party, Golden Dawn, with school lunches and food stamps. A Syriza government would seek these reforms and the salvation of the European project. And this can be only a good thing for the United States.

An unlikely campaign to change the flawed policies that govern the European Union has begun in Greece, a small, proud country that has, in the past, given quite a few ideas to the world — including one, people’s government, that we like to call by its Greek name. (Full article Here)

James K. Galbraith and Yanis Varoufakis are professors at the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin.

Given the current political situation -ie the same parties ND/PASOK that ruined Greece are ruling it again -, yes,  Syriza is the alternative. The party gets high scores in public opinion rates, normally narrowly following Samaras’  ND. However, with 22-24% both parties are far from ever building a majority government.

Yes,  SYRIZA  may get the chance to govern Greece provided the many component of the party agree on a realistic, convincing and the-middle-classes-not-scaring economic policy. SYRIZA needs to thoroughly explain this policy to people.

Syriza & Varoufakis just need to ask around that generation of voters and supporters but not party members who supported this party for several decades….

But saviors and prophets? No, thanks! Greeks have been on the permanent I-Save-You path during the last three years.

PS Shall we live to see Varoufakis as finance minister in a Syriza-led government?

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  1. No serious economist takes Varoufakis words to heart. Maybe he can still charm a few public policy experts with his dribble.

  2. No mention of the #2 party in Greece at this time? Maybe they’ll just go away, huh?