My endorsement of Alexis Tsipras' Candidacy for the Presidency of the European Commission – video

Over the past year I have argued that Europe needs a jolt.

And that there can be no better jolt than the election to the Presidency of the European Commission of a pro-European young leader, from the suffering Periphery, who is  intent on keeping the Eurozone together by opposing (rather than acquiescing to) the European establishment’s failed, toxic policies. A leader who is keen neither for austerity nor for federal moves or cumbersome Treaty changes that will sap Europe of whatever energy it has left. Alexis Tsipras is such a leader and, for this reason, he has my support. The video above explains the reasons – some of which I have already written about in articles like those below:

Can Greece’s SYRIZA Change Europe’s Economy? – from the BOSTON REVIEW

Europe can only gain from a government led by Alexis Tsipras – from the New York Times

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35 Comments

  • Go Europe! Take a chance on moving out of a big economic mess. Vote in some new blood like Alex Tsipras to shed light on the real state of affairs in Europe instead of listening to propaganda that you must put up with more years of high unemployed and virtually zero growth. The bankers are living high on hog while you can barely get by!

  • Yani,

    Europe is too comfortable to need a jolt. Portugal just announced that they are sending the Troika home as they can finance themselves. Spain and Italy can borrow once again at pre-crisis levels. Germany is borrowing at 1%.

    Huge imbalances exist like the one in Greece with unemployment of 27%. But very few Germans care about Greeks while on the other hand very few Greeks want to leave the euro let alone stop buying overpriced German cars.

    So Greeks continue to suffer and the ones that pay taxes legally essentially are at a stalemate as the government taxes them from the first euro, does not allow any deductions and on top of that taxes them on real estate based on the inflated asset values from before the crisis.

    Best if Tsipras focuses in Greece where he can make a contribution. But with his policy on legalizing illegal immigrants (a number equal to the number of unemployed) I fear that he is also far removed from reality and too comfortable in his circle of liberal parliamentarians.

    • Don’t believe what Lisbon and Dublin say. They cannot finance themselves. At least not without the OMT threat in the background. There is a silent Memorandum of Understanding: We shall pretend that we are self-financing, you – the Germans – will pretend that you believe us, and we will do as you instruct us vis-a-vis austerity, labour market ‘reforms’ etc. as long as the ECB stands by ready to make the OMT threat credible. In other words, this is a new bailout – the only difference from the previous ones is that this is financed by the private sector, under the guidance and implicit guarantees of the ECB.

    • Since nobody knows how many irregular immigrants there are currently in Greece, then your confident assertion about the number seems to be the result of listening to Golden Dawn propaganda. Moreover, your mentioning in the same breath “illegal immigrants” and unemployed persons (which actually includes many immigrants, legal or otherwise) indicates that you consider them to be depriving Greeks of jobs. (Again, this is a Golden Dawn agenda.) Many of the sans papiers in Greece have been here for a decade or more, and were working legally prior to the crisis. They lost their jobs just as Greeks did, but also lost their legal status.

      If on the other hand you are referring to recent inflows of persons via Turkey, then they are a different case. But the numbers are small, many are locked up in concentration camps and prisons (note the recent European Court ruling in two cases where Greece was found guilty of detaining people in inhuman and illegal conditions), and most of those who are on the street were placed there by the Greek state prior to the EU more or less taking control of Greece’s corrupt and incompetent asylum and illegal migration policies.

      In the latter regard, you may be interested to know that the trafficking of immigrants into Greece is mostly organised by officials in the Ministries of Interior and Public Order. Perhaps the priority should be to deal with this criminality and corruption before complaining about Tsipras’ humanitarian policies.

    • Yiani,
      In agreement. But the OMT threat has worked. Borrowing costs have come down to pre-crisis levels. Draghi seems to be much more effective than Trichet.
      Behind the scene there are huge problems and imbalances that unfortunately manifest with 27% chronic unemployment in Greece and also in Spain. Reducing unemployment requires much more in the case of Greece. It requires providing political and economic stability first. The irony is that Tsipras has been all about causing instability…

  • Indeed Europe needs a jolt and a win of the Tsipras Euro-candidacy will probably delivery it.

    However and because in Greece Euro-elections are still not about Europe I am very concerned whether such a win for the Tsipras Euro-candidacy will create a momentum with the potential to greatly distort the local Greek election outcome the year after. And that would obviously be for the wrong reasons.

    That is a risk that a lot of Greeks have great difficulty to assume even if they wholeheartedly agree with the “need for a jolt”.

  • I’m all for Tsipras as President….but why has he missed 2 (ridiculous) candidate debates so far? Worrying!!

    • Not only truly ridiculous but at the same time disrespectful and further damaging the Greek political image abroad (whatever it remains of it that is)

  • I don’t want to rob anyone’s illusions but from the viewpoint of someone who is following central European media/blogs of all political orientations, Tsipras has become a non-event. Even on the Left. Mind you, this is a man who has been all over these media/blogs not too long ago. Today, one reads that the EU-candidates have come together a couple of times for debates but Tsipras was absent. More important events elsewhere. This conversion to non-event may, of course, be partially due to the recent positive propaganda about Greece by EU-elites, but only partially so. One just doesn’t get the feeling that the man is really motivated to give the EU a jolt. Just compare Tsipras’ to Farage’s passion.

  • I don’t really see what a solidary Europe shall look like. French economist Jacques Sapir estimated the annual cost (=transfers) for Germany to about 8-10% of it’s GDP to keep the Euro alive. Patrick Artus (Natixis) calculated even more (12% if I remember well). That is just not bearable by Germany. A recent OECD study revealed that German taxpayers do pay the 2. highest part of their income for taxes and charges across developed nations, just after Belgium. Shall they be taxed still more? I remember also another study showing that the wealth of the median German household is in the bottom part of wealth in the EZ.

    No, the common currency has brought all these problems of moral hazard and greed to Europe. It is used by the elites to play out working people in the EZ against each other. Let’s end this experiment and return to a peaceful Europe of cooperation.

    • This recent OECD study you mentioned is being used by the neoliberal elites and their associated german media outlets to sway public opinion in their preferred direction. It inevitably leads to the well known broken record call for social security cuts, which also happens to be part of the troika’s snake oil recipe prescribed to the deficit countries in order to ‘cure’ them of their debt desease by implementing so-called ‘structural reforms’ and increasing their competitiveness.

      Like many studies recently cited, it fails to acknowledge that many developed countries require their citizens to finance pensions, health care and sometimes even social security insurance on their own with income already taxed. Many of them also pay fees for the use of privately owned roads and some even have to pay a small fortune to provide their children with a decent education.

      Although the private sector in Germany and its lobbying community are working hard to dismantle this current system of public social security, health care, infrastructure and education and privatize what’s left of it, it is still(!) one of the best across these developed nations.
      But we can’t have that, can we?
      Especially now that we have forced our neighbours to abandon this kind of socialist behaviour and return to the good old days when everyone was fighting for themselves.

      Surprisingly, what the study doesn’t fail to mention and what really seperates Germany from countries with comparable social security standards, is the sad and undeniable fact that the increasing taxation of the german middle class and the sorry state of median household wealth you also write about are the result of a massive redistribution of wealth from the bottom to the top and a system of tax and social security charges progression that stops not too far above median incomes and leaves the upper part of the income bracket more or less out of the equation.
      This, of course, is not an official policy of the austeritarians in Brussels and Berlin, but the people telling them what to tell us are speaking for the only ones benefiting massively from it.
      Add to this the massive cuts on corporate and capital gains taxes Germany has seen over the last decade, compare it to the steep incline of revenues for german exporting firms and their collective owners during the same period and then tell us again how this is caused by the people of the deficit countries now suffering the consequences of a totally unbalanced common market.

      So if you follow along the lines of german media propaganda and join the lament over the burdens the current state of affairs within the EU is putting on the german taxpayer’s shoulders, instead of assigning blame first I suggest you start by asking yourself the really important question: cui bono?

      The common currency is not the cause of the desease. It is a symptom!

  • Xenos,
    Tsipras promises to legalize illegal immigrants in a country with 27% unemployment. These people did not come to Greece to immigrate, their ultimate destination is Europe and the Dublin treaty is (conveniently for Europe) forcing them to stay in the country of entry. Their influx has degraded large parts of major cities like Athens and Patra. This is a real problem that Greece has to address. By the way XA is as extreme as the far left in Greece.

    • Konstantinos. You are repeating Golden Dawb propaganda again. AS I told you in the last post, many of the people you describe as illegal immigrants have been in Greece for over a decade. The actual number of immigrants in Greece is thought to have declined from a high of around 1.1 m in 2009 (excluding homogeneis, who legally are immigrants unless they acquire Greek citizenship) to much less than a million now. The difference is that few now have legal documents, since Greece (unlike Italy and Spain) refuses to implement the long-term residence provisions of the EU. In Spain, 76% of residence permits are permanent: in Italy, around 55%; in Greece, it is about 0.1%. Most of the sans papiers in Greece have been made illegal by the Greek state’s policies of refusing to grant status (in accordance with EU law) and marginalisation and exploitation. Therefore, the issue is more the illegal conduct of the Greek state. I mentioned to you before, the criminal conduct of senior persons in two ministries and their role in organising trafficking.

      The more recent arrivals to Greece are mostly in detention camps. Small numbers who arrived a few years ago are on the streets because that was the official policy of the government. The fact that most came to Greece expecting to find civilisation and found a mess is hardly relevant to anything, other than their futures. Now, of course, they try to leave for another EU country (and not only work, also a secure status). The immigrants know much better than you do what is happening in other EU countries.

      And I do not accept the “theory of the extremes” that we hear a lot from the USA and right wingers in Europe. There is no comparison between XA and KKE since XA has been systematically engaged in extreme violence and murders of immigrants for several years.The thugs have been terrorizing the immigrants community for at least 5 years, and most of the crimes have not been reported in the Greek press. There is nothing comparable from KKE or any other left party.

    • Xenos,

      Your response is even more troubling. You mention that there are a little less than 1 million immigrants with no papers. Your position that Greece should grant all of them legal residence is even scarier. And this is no XA propaganda. You are talking about illegals that comprise 10% of the current population of Greece. The fact that Tsipras has this position is the single reason he has absolutely no chance of winning an election in Greece by enough of a margin to be able to govern.

      KKE in Greece is the only party in Europe that still sees Stalin as a hero.

    • Konstantinos. You should learn how to read accurately. I did not state that there are just under a million immigrants without papers. I do not know, nor does anyone else, how many are sans papiers. Even the Greek state cannot calculate this, because of the incoherent policies of different state agencies. What we do know from the appalling (and illegal) apprehensions of “immigrants” (read, people of different appearance) under Operation Xemios

      The fact is that people who have legally resided in a country for some time deserve rights. This has nothing to do with unemployment levels and everything to do with the observance of civilised principles and also the standards accepted across the EU. If you do not agree with the policies proposed by Syriza, then this is your right. But these are standard democratic left policies — logically, this would imply that your position is well to the Right.

    • Xenos,

      There is a reason Greece is not going anywhere anytime. In addition to the corrupt governing parties there is a surreal left agenda. Tell me now that Americans, Germans, Swiss or British like good democrats would all massively legalize illegal immigrants that number 5-10% of their respective populations just because they have resided for some time in their countries (purely because they are not allowed to go anywhere else in Europe as they are escaping war in their countries). Absolutely no way, it would not happen – only the far left in Greece dreams of this.

      Greece every year sends thousands of students abroad to study because it is not allowing non-public universities purely because the left wing says so. They Greek students flock to the universities of the UK, Italy, Romania, US you name it. And the left insists that not even not for profit universities would ever be allowed in Greece. That would threaten to reduce equality right?

      So in a way Greece deserves its position in this crisis because on the one side you have Samaras selling 7,000 acres of prime property in Athens to a business insider and on the other hand you have Tsipras ready to provide residence to all illegal immigrants.

      Incompetence is too mild of a word.

    • [interrupted post — please read this as part of my last post]
      What we learned from the disgraceful police operation Xenios Zeus in 2012 is that out of 70,000 immigrants detained for no reason other than their appearance, only 4,000 were without legal status. Similar numbers pertain for the operation repeated in 2013, which the minister described as a success. Most civilised countries would consider it a national humiliation and disgrace to arrest so many innocent foreigners — but not apparently in Greece. The racist values of neonazi GD are not confined to that party.

    • Xenos,
      You represent the minority opinion. The majority opinion in Greece wants to limit illegal immigration and is opposed to legalizing illegal immigrants when new waves are arriving every day. Greece is not the US with Canada to the north and oceans left and right.
      It is good for people to know what Syriza stands for in regards to immigration.

    • Konstantinos: you are determined to post lies and propaganda here, it seems. I have already explained to you that most of the “illegal immigrants” in Greece are former legal or semi-legal residents who lost their jobs and status, whereas in other European countries the majority would have had secure legal status after losing their employment. Your question about what other EU countries would do is moot and irrelevant, as well as the proportion/numbers being totally incorrect and more in line with Golden Dawn propaganda. It is true that the Germans, in their usual dogmatic and inflexible style, refuse to give legal status to immigrants who arrived illegally. They give pieces of paper (Duldung) stating that the holder is without legal status but cannot be arrested or deported for that reason. Is that an intelligent policy? The British, with its current right wing government, also refuses to legalise immigrants — with massive problems as a result. All you are doing is posting rightwing ideological positions here, not making any positive contribution to Greece’s ills.

      I was responding only about immigration issues in your comments. However, I can assure you that the private universities in Greece are a disaster (in contrast to Turkey, for example) and do not represent a solution to public sector higher education problems. Far from it, they are money-grabbing and incompetent outfits, and should not be allowed to operate in Greece. This is a realistic position, not an ideological one.

      And I do not see an equation concerning Samaras selling property and Tsipras’ policy of granting rights to non-EU residents of Greece. The only real connection is that for decades the Greek state, including ND, has trafficked and explicitly brought immigrants from the Turkish border and located them in central Athens. Ask yourself why they did that. And then ask yourself what the options are for a democratic left governments in dealing with the mess made by ND and Pasok. It actually boils down to a choice of Nazi-style solutions or Tsipras style solutions — or would you prefer that we continue with the previous style, of state corruption and illegality, and pretending that these things are nothing to do with the government?

    • Xenos,

      You talk about propaganda yet you degrade the discussion by saying that the governing party is intentionally trafficking illegal immigrants.

      Let’s agree that illegal immigration is a big problem for Greece and leave it there. I am hoping that Tsipras is smart enough to figure out the effects of illegal immigration in Greece and that the remedy is not legalization of unknown numbers that are spread all over Greece.

      Now on the issue of private universities are your referring to the likes of Deree?
      Did you know that there are students in the economics and law schools of the Athens university that also join Deree so as to keep productive through all the periods that the Greek Universities (student bodies, faculty or personnel) are on strikes?

      First let’s explain to the readers that no private university in Greece is allowed to produce and certify engineers, doctors, lawyers – only the public government run universities can do that. The only courses private universities are allowed to offer are business and economics related, courses that do not lead to any certifications.

      This is pure leftist dogma. First of all the best private universities in the world are not private for profit but rather non profit institutions that rely on endowments and some support from the government through research grants to operate.

      Such institutions are not allowed in leftist Greece. Not good enough you say.

      Better for the prospective dentist from the Greek island who aspires to be a doctor to go to Romania to study right? Yes Romania will welcome him with open arms. He will then travel to the UK to get his expertise and come back to Greece to practice in his home island. Greece with its limited public universities denied him the right to be a doctor, Romania welcomed him.

      No wonder Romania and the UK have 5-6% unemployment and Greece has 27%.

      The far left in Greece has done tremendous damage behind the scenes. Equal to the damage done by the corrupt ND that sold 7,000 acres at Ellinikon without even planning for areas for public parking or bus stations near the new metro stations or by the water.

    • Konstantinos: I deal in facts. Obviously, you do not understand anything of what has been happening in Greece with immigration. Kindly accept that my facts are from verified and reliable sources. You insist on repeating neo-Nazi lies when clearly you do not have any expertise in this matter. I do. That you do not read in the press the things I am telling you is because most of this is not public information. Why you are surprised to hear that state agencies and individuals engage in crime and corruption I really do not know. Have you ever lived in Greece?

      Now there are no significant flows arriving other than through the now-functioning asylum system that the EU has imposed on Greece, which detains in prison camps all those detected. The problem is actually that the immigrants are detained in contravention of the Geneva Convention and ECHR, and not dealt with in a timely and humane fashion. (Incidentally, my sources tell me that the Greek ministries fought tooth and nail to stop Frontex from sealing the Greek borders (I wonder why!) and UNHCR also has had very bad experiences with the Greek state, including problems going right up to Samaras)

      I can assure you that the conduct of private universities in Greece is a disgrace. They are not academic institutions with research, and they are money-making machinery that treat their staff like shit. Again, this is direct information from personal contacts. The state universities are also a disaster, I agree; my point is that the private sector has nothing to offer. The problems of Greece lie within the Greek state and political system, and this is where solutions have to be found. Your right wing “solutions”, that are not solutions, actually perpetuate the structural problems of Greece.

    • Xenos,

      We can go on for ever. I am not an expert on immigration. However on every traffic light in Athens there is at least one illegal immigrant. These people are not detained as you say. Is Tsipras ready to give them residency status? Why are other countries so careful about their security and illegal immigration and Greece is so laid back about it?

      There is no right wing here, plain I love my country.

      Regarding the universities, first drop the limitation that allows not for profit universities to offer certifications to engineers and doctors and then we can talk again. As it is now the educational system is a left-wing monopoly.

      The fact that the doctor from the example I gave you had to go to Romania to study manifests the problem clearly. The fact that Romania has 5% unemployment and Greece 27% is a shame for all Greek politicians.

  • This map shows the projected seats by clicking on each individual country:

    http://www.electio2014.eu/pollsandscenarios/polls#country

    In Greece’s case, Syriza and ND split 6 seats each with the big winner being To Potami which out of the blue gets 3 seats (it has only been in business for 2 months and will get 50% of the seats its more established opponents get). There goes political professionalism with its perceived value being something of a negative number. (Greeks seem to be unwilling to acknowledge the government parties or its main opposition as credible).

    Tsipras’ EU (GUE_NGL) party ranks 5th according to the projected seats gathered.

    Needless to say that such outcome does nothing to convey any particular euro-skepticism message or dissatisfaction with the status quo. It looks like the 2 big parties EEP and S&D will easily find common ground towards a coalition of 400+ seats or so and will continue to dominate the politics of euro-absurdity.

    Conclusion: Much-ado about nothing. The rhetoric does not match the outcome of these euro-elections. And for the Nth time we are still failing to achieve any meaningful change in attitude and/or political direction.

    • The election is meaningless anyways. A parliament without the right to initiate legislation and that violates the one man one vote rule is a farce.

  • http://links.org.au/node/3716

    “It is neoliberal austerity that causes recession, zero or low and jobless growth. With the Netherlands expected to reach in 2017 the real economic output level of 2008. Austerity brought youth unemployment in the Eurozone to the unprecedented 25%.”

    “That’s how xenophobic extreme right-wing populism rises.You have, in your country, Geert Wilders and his so-called “Party for Freedom”. That’s how neo-Nazism resurfaces. We have in Greece the Golden Dawn party.” (Your country is Holland, Wilders wil be the biggest party in this election in Holland.)

    “Our opponents say: “You can’t have both. You can’t have democracy and european integration.” We say, that the European Union will either be democratic, or it will not exist.
    For us, democracy is non-negotiable. This is our political alternative to neoliberalism and to the neoliberal process of European integration: democracy, more democracy and even deeper democracy.”

    He is so right…..

  • I m afraid Syriza will not implement all these policies you suggest. On the one side it lacks cohesion and ideological basis… on the other side as a major party it aims for the center of the electorat and it tries to be likable to the elites… thus it becomes less pro-people. Beyond that, and in case strong euroscepticism doesn’t grow, Europe/Germany will NOT change to be more social or solidaristic. And that’s the most important and dicisive factor!
    But all this will happen if euroscepticism rests in low levels. I don’t know what we should expect when euroscepticism will rise above expectation but some say that in great countries like France and Italy it will triumph. Ever more than Greece… And as I live in France I can say they are not exagerate.

  • Fully agree. We need more people lile Schulz, Van Roumpoy and also more Greeks. This will help to get ri of the EU much quicker!

  • QUESTION: IF Tsipras is Pro-EU and wants to stay in the EU, then why does it matter? It’ll be the same Greece for years to come. Can someone tell me what I’m missing with his candidacy?