Greece: SYRIZA wins! SYRIZA's 40-point program

 Emotional celebrations as SYRIZA wins the January 25, 2015, general election.

See SYRIZA's 2014 governmental program: "Greece: What a SYRIZA government will do"

For more discussion and analysis of SYRIZA's victory, click HERE.

January 26, 2015 -- SYRIZA has won a great victory in the Greek general election.
It became clear in the final days of the campaign that SYRIZA was headed for such a momentous victory. Their rallies across Greece – in town squares, factories and universities – were thoughtful and inspirational. The working class was making its mind up about SYRIZA. Now it has decided and the results are clear – this is nothing short of an overwhelming expression of the people’s will for change, by and for the people.

The last question that remains is if SYRIZA will achieve a majority 151 seats out of Greek parliament’s 300 seats. So far they are just short on 149, but final results will take some time.

* * *

Due to enormous demand Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal is reposting the official program of the Greek coalition of the radical left, SYRIZA. The following was translated from the daily bulletin of Italy’s Communist Refoundation Party. The text was first translated by and posted at The Greanville Post

* * *

1. Audit of the public debt and renegotiation of interest due and suspension of payments until the economy has revived and growth and employment return.

2. Demand the European Union to change the role of the European Central Bank so that it finances states and programs of public investment.

3. Raise income tax to 75% for all incomes over 500,000 euros.

4. Change the election laws to a proportional system.

5. Increase taxes on big companies to that of the European average.

6. Adoption of a tax on financial transactions and a special tax on luxury goods.

7. Prohibition of speculative financial derivatives.

8. Abolition of financial privileges for the Church and shipbuilding industry.

9. Combat the banks' secret [measures] and the flight of capital abroad.

10. Cut drastically military expenditures.

11. Raise minimum salary to the pre-cut level, 750 euros per month.

12. Use buildings of the government, banks and the Church for the homeless.

13. Open dining rooms in public schools to offer free breakfast and lunch to children.

14. Free health benefits to the unemployed, homeless and those with low salaries.

15. Subvention up to 30% of mortgage payments for poor families who cannot meet payments.

16. Increase of subsidies for the unemployed. Increase social protection for one-parent families, the aged, disabled, and families with no income.

17. Fiscal reductions for goods of primary necessity.

18. Nationalisation of banks.

19. Nationalisation of ex-public (service & utilities) companies in strategic sectors for the growth of the country (railroads, airports, mail, water).

20. Preference for renewable energy and defence of the environment.

21. Equal salaries for men and women.

22. Limitation of precarious hiring and support for contracts for indeterminate time.

23. Extension of the protection of labour and salaries of part-time workers.

24. Recovery of collective (labour) contracts.

25. Increase inspections of labour and requirements for companies making bids for public contracts.

26. Constitutional reforms to guarantee separation of church and state and protection of the right to education, health care and the environment.

27. Referendums on treaties and other accords with Europe.

28. Abolition of privileges for parliamentary deputies. Removal of special juridical protection for ministers and permission for the courts to proceed against members of the government.

29. Demilitarisation of the Coast Guard and anti-insurrectional special troops. Prohibition for police to wear masks or use fire arms during demonstrations. Change training courses for police so as to underline social themes such as immigration, drugs and social factors.

30. Guarantee human rights in immigrant detention centres.

31. Facilitate the reunion of immigrant families.

32. Depenalisation of consumption of drugs in favor of battle against drug traffic. Increase funding for drug rehab centres.

33. Regulate the right of conscientious objection in draft laws.

34. Increase funding for public health up to the average European level.(The European average is 6% of GDP; in Greece 3%.)

35. Elimination of payments by citizens for national health services.

36. Nationalisation of private hospitals. Elimination of private participation in the national health system.

37. Withdrawal of Greek troops from Afghanistan and the Balkans. No Greek soldiers beyond our own borders.

38. Abolition of military cooperation with Israel. Support for creation of a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders.

39. Negotiation of a stable accord with Turkey.

40. Closure of all foreign bases in Greece and withdrawal from NATO.

* * *

See also and (below)

The exit from the crisis is on the left

1. Creation of a shield to protect society against the crisis:

  • Not a single citizen without a guaranteed minimum income or unemployment benefit, medical care, social protection, housing, and access to all services of public utilities.
  • Protection of and relief measures for indebted households.
  • Price controls and price reductions, VAT reduction, and abolition of VAT on basic-need goods.

2. Disposal of the debt burden:

The national debt is first and foremost a product of class relations, and is inhumane in its very essence. It is produced by the tax evasion of the wealthy, the looting of public funds, and the exorbitant procurement of military weapons and equipment.

We are asking immediately for:

  • A moratorium on debt servicing.
  • Negotiations for debt cancellation, with provisions for the protection of social insurance funds and small savers. This will be pursued by exploiting any available means, such as audit control and suspension of payments.
  • Regulation of the remaining debt to include provisions for economic development and employment.
  • European regulations on the debt of European states.
  • Radical changes to the European Central Bank's role.
  • Prohibition of speculative banking products.
  • A pan-European tax on wealth, financial transactions, and profits.

3. Income redistribution, taxation of wealth, and elimination of unnecessary expenses:

  • Reorganization and consolidation of tax collection mechanisms.
  • Taxation of fortunes over 1-million euros and large-scale revenues.
  • Gradual increase, up to 45%, of the tax on the distributed profits of corporations (SA).
  • Taxation of financial transactions.
  • Special taxation on consumption of luxury goods.
  • Removal of tax exemptions for ship owners and the Greek Orthodox Church.
  • Lifting of confidentiality for banking and merchant transactions, and pursuit of those who evade taxes and social insurance contributions.
  • Banning of transactions carried out through offshore companies.
  • Pursuit of new financial resources through efficient absorption of European funds, through claims on the payment of German World War II reparations and occupation loan, and finally via steep reductions in military expenses.

4. Productive social and environmental reconstruction:

  • Nationalization/socialization of banks, and their integration into a public banking system under social and workers’ control, in order to serve developmental purposes. The scandalous recapitalization of the banks must stop immediately.
  • Nationalization of all public enterprises of strategic importance that have been privatized so far. Administration of public enterprises based on transparency, social control, and democratic planning. Support for the provision of Public Goods.
  • Protection and consolidation of co-operatives and SMEs in the social sector.
  • Ecological transformation in development of energy production, manufacturing, tourism, and agriculture. These reforms will prioritize nutritional abundance and fulfillment of social needs.
  • Development of scientific research and productive specialization.

5. Stable employment with decent wages and social insurance:

The constant degradation of labour rights, coupled with embarrassing wage levels, does not attract investment, development, or employment.

Instead, we are calling for:

  • Well-paid, well-regulated, and insured employment.
  • Immediate reconstitution of the minimum wage, and reconstitution of real wages within three years.
  • Immediate reconstitution of collective labour agreements.
  • Instigation of powerful control mechanisms that will protect employment.
  • Systematic opposition of lay-offs and the deregulation of labour relations.

6. Deepening Democracy: democratic political and social rights for all:

There is a democratic deficit in the country. Greece is gradually being transformed into an authoritarian police state.

We are calling for:

  • The restoration of popular sovereignty and an upgrade of parliamentary power within the political system:
    • Creation of a proportional electoral system
    • Separation of powers
    • Revocation of ministerial immunity
    • Abolishment of economic privileges for MPs
  • Real decentralization to create local government with sound resources and expanded jurisdiction.
  • The introduction of direct democracy and institutions of self-management under workers’ and social control at all levels.
  • Measures against political and economic corruption.
  • The solidification of democratic, political, and trade union rights.
  • The enhancement of women's and youths’ rights in the family, in employment, and in public administration.
  • Immigration reforms:
    • Speeding up the asylum process
    • Abolition of Dublin II regulations and granting of travel papers to immigrants
    • Social inclusion of immigrants and equal rights protection
  • Democratic reforms to public administration with the active participation of civil servants.
  • The demilitarization and democratization of the Police and the Coast Guard. Disbandment of special forces.

7. Restoration of a strong welfare state:

Anti-insurance laws, the shutdown of social services, and the steep fall in social expenditures under the Memorandum have turned Greece into a country where social injustice reigns.

We are in need of:

  • An immediate rescue of the pension system, to include tripartite financing and the gradual consolidation of separate pension fund portfolios into one public, universal system of social insurance.
  • A raise in unemployment benefits until the substitution rate reaches 80% of the wage. No unemployed person is to be left without unemployment benefits.
  • The introduction of a guaranteed minimum income.
  • A unified system of comprehensive social protection covering the vulnerable social strata.

8. Health is a Public Good and a social right:

Health care is to be provided for free and will be financed through a Public Health System. Immediate measures include:

  • Support and upgrades for hospitals. Upgrade of health infrastructures of the Social Insurance Institute (IKA). Development of an integrated system of first-level medical care.
  • Covering the needs of medical treatment in both personnel and equipment, in part by stopping lay-offs.
  • Open and cost-free access to medical treatment for all residents in the country.
  • Free pharmaceutical treatment and medical examinations for low-income pensioners, the unemployed, students, and those suffering from chronic diseases.

9. Protection of public education, research, culture, and sports from the Memorandum's policies:

With regards to education, we are calling for:

  • Consolidation of universal, public, and free education, including coverage of its urgent needs in infrastructure and personnel at all three levels.
  • Compulsory 14-year unified education.
  • Revocation of the Diamantopoulou Law.
  • Assurance of self-government for Universities.
  • Preservation of the academic and public character of Universities.

10. An independent foreign policy committed to the promotion of peace:

The capitulation of our foreign policy to the desires of the U.S. and the powerful states of the European Union endangers the country's independence, peace, and security.

We propose:

  • A multi-dimensional and peace-seeking foreign policy.
  • Disengagement from NATO and closure of foreign military bases on Greek soil.
  • Termination of military cooperation with Israel.
  • Aiding the Cypriot people in the reunification of the island.

Furthermore, on the basis of international law and the principle of peaceful conflict resolution, we will pursue improvements in Greek-Turkish relations, a solution to the problem of FYROM's official name, and the specification of Greece's Exclusive Economic Zone.

The incumbent economic and social system has failed and we must overthrow it!

The economic crisis that is rocking global capitalism has shattered the illusions. More and more, people understand that capitalist speculation is an inhuman organizational principle for modern society. It is also widely acknowledged that the private banks function only for the benefit of the bankers, harming the rest of the people. Big business and bankers absorb billions of euros from health care, education, and pensions.

An exit from the crisis requires bold measures that will prevent those who created the crisis from continuing their destructive work. We are endorsing a new model for the production and distribution of wealth, one that will include society in its totality. In this respect, the large capitalist property is to be made public and managed democratically along social and ecological criteria. Our strategic aim is socialism with democracy, a system in which all will be entitled to participate in the decision-making process.

We are changing the future; we are pushing them into the past!

We can prevail by forging unity and creating a new coalition for power with the Left as a cornerstone. Our strength in this endeavour is the alliance of the People: the inspiration, the creative effort, and the struggle of the working people. With these, we will shape the lives and the future of a self-governed people.

Now the vote is in the hands of the People! Now the People have the power!

In this new election, the Greek people can and must vote against the regime of the Memoranda and the Troika, thus turning over a new page of hope and optimism for the future.

For Greece and for Europe, the solution is with the Left!

Submitted by Terry Townsend on Fri, 01/30/2015 - 13:49


From minimum wage to prescriptions, Alexis Tsipras is making good his promises to voters in startling fashion.

Helena Smith in Athens

Thursday 29 January 2015

One by one they were rolled back, blitzkrieg-style, mercilessly, ruthlessly, with rat-a-tat efficiency. First the barricades came down outside the Greek parliament. Then it was announced that privatisation schemes would be halted and pensions reinstated. And then came the news of the reintroduction of the €751 monthly minimum wage. And all before Greece’s new prime minister, the radical leftwinger Alexis Tsipras, had got his first cabinet meeting under way.

After that, ministers announced more measures: the scrapping of fees for prescriptions and hospital visits, the restoration of collective work agreements, the rehiring of workers laid off in the public sector, the granting of citizenship to migrant children born and raised in Greece. On his first day in office – barely 48 hours after storming to power – Tsipras got to work. The biting austerity his Syriza party had fought so long to annul now belonged to the past, and this was the beginning not of a new chapter but a book for the country long on the frontline of the euro crisis.
Alexis Tsipras, accompanied by members of his government, poses for a group picture outside the parliament in central Athens.

“A new era has begun, a government of national salvation has arrived,” he declared as cameras rolled and the cabinet session began. “We will continue with our plan. We don’t have the right to disappoint our voters.”

If Athens’s troika of creditors at the EU, ECB and IMF were in any doubt that Syriza meant business it was crushingly dispelled on Wednesday . With lightning speed, Europe’s first hard-left government moved to dismantle the punishing policies Athens has been forced to enact in return for emergency aid.

Measures that had pushed Greeks on to the streets – and pushed the country into its worst slump on record – were consigned to the dustbin of history, just as the leftists had promised. But the reaction was swift and sharp. Within minutes of the new energy minister, Panagiotis Lafazanis, announcing that plans to sell the public power corporation would be put on hold, Greek bank stocks tumbled. Many lost more than a third of their value, with brokers saying they had suffered their worst day ever. While yields on Greek bonds rose, the Athens stock market plunged. By closing time it had shed over 9%, hitting levels not seen since September 2012 and losing any gains it had clawed back since Mario Draghi, the European Central Bank chief, vowed to do “whatever it takes” to save the euro.

By nightfall there was another blow as Standard & Poor’s revised its Greek sovereign rating outlook, taking the first step towards a formal downgrade. The agency warned that a bank run might also be in the offing, noting that “accelerated deposit withdrawals from Greek banks had created “a credit concern”.

Perhaps prepared for the onslaught, Tsipras had also acted. On Tuesday, he met the Chinese ambassador to Athens to insist that while Syriza and its junior partner, the populist rightwing Independent Greeks party, would also be cancelling plans to privatise Piraeus port authority, the government wanted good relations with Beijing. China’s Cosco group, which already controls several docks in Piraeus, had been among four suitors bidding for the port.

On Tuesday, Greece’s anti-austerity finance minister, Yanis Varoufakis, held late-night talks with his French counterpart, again to placate and reassure. “Our priority is to conduct new negotiations with our partners with the aim of reaching a fair, viable and mutually beneficial solution,” insisted Tsipras, at 40 the country’s youngest postwar leader, “so that the country exits the vicious circle of excessive debt and recession.” As he was handed the reins of the finance ministry, by Gikas Hardouvelis, his predecessor, Varoufakis, 53, an academic who has taught economics in Athens, Britain, America and Australia, repeated that message. The new government’s aim was not to spar with its partners but to create a “new relationship of friendship and sincerity”.

There is no denying Athens’s young revolutionaries have hit the ground running – and hit it with a thunderous thud. In some ways no one represents this better than the iconoclastic Varoufakis, whose investiture should go down as a textbook case of what happens when radicals come into town.
Yanis Varoufakis: maverick economist with Greece’s fate in his hands
Read more

If Hardouvelis, had had his way the handover would have been uneventful, if a little lachrymose. “I sincerely wish the new government well,” he said, eyes firmly fixed ahead. “Greece doesn’t have the luxury of waiting until June to conclude [negotiations] with our partners. There are debt repayments that have to be made.”

And then it was Varoufakis’s turn and he was off, rocking and rolling his way through Hardouvelis’s script, demolishing the philosophy of a government that had, he said, thrown the country into a self-perpetuating economic death spiral and all because of a mistake “a huge toxic mistake made in this very building”. There was no looking back and as Hardouvelis nervously looked on – at times relieved, at times alarmed – it was quite clear that there was no stepping back either. Greece sincerely had no intention of clashing with its partners, Varoufakis insisted, but the logic of austerity was such that policies conducted in its embrace could only fail.

“We will rehire the cleaners who were fired from this building,” he said, all guns blazing, as he promised to reinstate the women who have become the face of austerity’s injustice. “And then we will seek a pan-European new deal to reboot [our] economies.”