Podemos in solidarity with SYRIZA's struggle against austerity

For more analysis and discussion on SYRIZA's struggle against austerity, click HERE

By Podemos (Spain)

June 30, 2015 -- Podemos, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- In view of the situation in Greece, and following the breakdown in the negotiations by the Eurogroup, Podemos wishes to communicate the following:

1. Last Monday, the Greek government presented a proposal to the Eurogroup which included important concessions and was unanimously welcomed by the lenders as being reasonable and viable. In the following days, however, the international creditors led by the International Monetary Fund did not accept the Greek government’s proposal to tax the wealthiest sectors of society, restructure the debt and launch an investment plan to revive the economy.

Instead, they demanded to raise VAT [indiredt tax] on basic services and food and required further cuts on pensions and wages. In their effort to demonstrate that there is no alternative to austerity, the creditors only seem to accept the money of the poor, and insist on imposing the same logic and measures that led the country into a humanitarian disaster. The Greek economy is asphyxiated. To keep strangling it is the precise opposite of what must be done.

2. Facing such blackmail and extortion, the Greek government has reacted to the ultimatum in an exemplary manner: by calling on the people to decide their own future in a democratic and sovereign way. Unlike the Spanish governments of 2011 and 2012, the Greek government has refused to violate the popular mandate derived from the January election. All the attempts at coercing, intimidating and influencing this vote by unelected powers, especially by the European Central Bank -- which is willing to suffocate the Greek financial system to influence the outcome of the referendum -- constitute a flagrant and unacceptable violation of the democratic principle.

We say that Europe without democracy is not Europe: all democrats should join their voices in denouncing these intolerable interferences and pressures. Democracy is incompatible with letting unelected powers govern and decide for us. It is democracy what is at stake.

3. With their intransigence, the creditors have demonstrated that they have no interest at all in solving the Greek debt crisis; their aim is rather to subject and overthrow a democratically elected government so as to prove that there is no alternative to the politics of austerity. Their blindness is such that they are willing to put at risk the integrity and the stability of the financial system and the European project itself, exposing them to speculative attacks whose price will ultimately be paid also by the citizens of other countries. We will say it once and again: they will be the ones to blame, they will be responsible for the consequences of this disaster.

4. SYRIZA did not create the tremendous economic crisis that affects Greece. It was the governments of New Democracy and PASOK, the friends of our Peoples Party and PSOE [social democrats], who falsified data and accounts, surrendered the sovereignty of the country to the Troika, and handed SYRIZA an economic and social catastrophe that is necessary and urgent to reverse.

5. Many international actors have already distanced themselves from the dogmatism of the creditors. Hundreds of thousands of people across the world have expressed their solidarity with the Greek people in their defense of the democratic principle. We demand that the Spanish Government and the European institutions respect the sovereignty and dignity of the Greek people, and that they consequently guarantee that the referendum takes place in conditions of freedom and complete normality. The democratic will and the fundamental rights of the Greek people, which have been systematically attacked during the long years of austerity, must be respected.

There are two contradictory fields in Europe: austerity and democracy, the government of the people or the government of the market and its unelected powers. We stand firm on the side of democracy. We stand firm with the Greek people.



Note: this petition has been widely circulated and received a lot of support in Romanian. We publish here the English version. 

For the last five years ordinary people from all across Europe have been paying for a crisis they didn’t create. For the last five years we have been paying for the irresponsible quest for profits of the financial system and for the failure of governments to control that system. From our money, the banks have been bailed out and the bankers have given each other outrageous bonuses. In the meantime, wages and pensions dropped dramatically, unemployment skyrocketed and the gap between the rich and the poor deepened even more. It has been claimed that austerity is the only possible solution to the crisis, despite a long and diverse range of economists emphasising that the way out of a crisis is through economic growth not budgetary cuts. Five years later, and the IMF itself came to their conclusion: austerity has failed, not only in social terms, but also from a strictly economic point of view – it didn’t reduce the budgetary deficits, but on the contrary!

Of all European countries, Greece has been going since 2010 through the most brutal austerity: unemployment reached 27%, pensions have been cut by up to 48%, wages decreased by 37% and poverty reached levels typical of a country in time of war. It has been claimed that the Greeks deserve all of these, because they are lazy and do not pay their taxes. However, Greece’s debt crisis was not caused by laziness, for according to OECD the Greeks work the highest amount of hours per year in Europe, nor by the small businesses that have not paid their taxes. The crisis was caused by the accumulation of the loans irresponsibly given by foreign banks to successive incompetent and corrupt Greek governments. The tax evasion of big companies and of the super rich only increased the country’s public deficit.

However, after five years of brutal austerity, the Greek people had the courage to elect in January 2015 a government that promised to oppose the consensus of austerity. Even so, SYRIZA did not prove to be as radical as the Troika feared. Over the last six months, the government led by Alexis Tsipras made several concessions in trying to reach a compromise with the Troika. Nevertheless, the Troika remained unshaken in its obsession for austerity and refused to make any major concession, despite the social crisis of the ordinary Greeks and the will expressed by them through democratic vote. Even the last offer made last week by Tsipras was rejected by the Troika, although it entailed the full payment of the debt but by shifting some part of the burden from the ordinary people to the rich, protected so far from any austerity measures. This rejection shows us that the international creditors are not concerned that much with recovering the debt as they are with maintaining an austerity policy that proved to be devastating for the majority of the Greeks. Thus, it has been confirmed once again that austerity is nothing more than the solution of the 1% to a crisis created by them, a solution more and more obviously meant to reinforce their economic and political domination.

At this stage, Greece is closer than ever to leaving the Euro zone, although not as much due to its own will as to the inflexibility of its creditors. For any further concession on the behalf of the SYRIZA government would mean the complete betrayal of the electoral promises that brought them to power and, at the same time, the disillusionment of millions of Europeans who hope that austerity can be defeated. Compared to this latter scenario, we believe that the Grexit is the preferable option, despite the initially difficult period that would follow. In that case, a series of progressive measures would be necessary in order to shift from austerity to economic recovery: the introduction of capital control in order to prevent the massive withdrawal of cash; the nationalisation of banking system and of the key sectors of the economy; the initiation of large scale public projects in a country with 27% unemployment, a substantial lack of housing and an old infrastructure; the cancellation of debts and the granting of interest free loans for small businesses. Grexit cannot be done in the same framework of neoliberal capitalism.

Hence, only a few days before a crucial referendum for both Greece and Europe, we, the signatories of the petition, express our solidarity with the SYRIZA government and the Greek people in their resistance against austerity. We express our support for a “No” vote in the referendum on July 5th and, furthermore, for a Grexit which is not only preferable to a fundamentally failed policy but can represent the opportunity for building a more just society. Their struggle is our struggle!