Ποιειν Και Πραττειν - create and do

Alexis Tsipras, Leader of the Opposition, President of SYRIZA

Alexis Tsipras, Leader of the Opposition, President of SYRIZA

He is aware to be addressing the business world at a crucial turning point.

The economy after the Memorandum of Understanding has reached an extreme situation due to internal devaluation and destroyed society.

It is pointless today to present arguments to stop this ruinous path, but rather we need to seek a way out of this disaster with a broader consensus and therefore Syriza sents an invitation to all partners.

In Thessaloniki, we made some concrete analysis of measures which can relieve from the crisis: increase of minimum wage, employment of 300 000 jobs made possible through a national measure, so that it will have a multiple effect and not just a hand out and a return to the clientèle.

We undertook commitments for 2 proposals designed as laws to be introduced in Parliament immediately after the elections were held.

We need all three: state, private and social economy.

We want the state to protect public good. We want a public sector which is powerful and effective in education, health, safety. We want a public sector which supports the healthy businessman and welcomes the true investors.

For us, the innovative businessman who undertakes risk and this in all responsibility will be our ally. We fight corruption, tax evasion, black market dealing etc.  We do count our friends and enemies. Indeed, it takes two to tango, so when red tape prevails since it serves corruption and a prerequisite for legal tax evasions, then we take this matter to the tax squad. Alarming is there right now how much has not been collected in terms what has been charged as taxes owed to the state.

Here are some of our proposed measures:

I spoke about incentives, but apart from them we need the mechanisms to mobilize investments:

1. public development bank

2. review of investment law

3. liquidity, provisions by the financial system

4. public investments – this final access is dependent upon negotiations with the EU level

I tried to make a substantive intervention. Our country and our economy needs specific, concrete commitments. On our part we are undertaking preparations to govern. We want to create a hopeful future. We deem as prerequisite the support of all partners since Greece needs us all.




It is never easy for a leader of the opposition, and especially of the Left Party, to speak to entrepreneurs. Interestingly enough, after he had spoken, and the other panel discussions continued, some expressed if both the parties making up the government and the opposition share the same views, why do they not create a national unity government for the sake of the country? One common point of agreement may have been struck when Tsipras advocated a Development Bank, insofar something similar was mentioned by Nikos Dendias, Minister of Development and Competitiveness. Yet such a suggestion goes far beyond a principle understanding of how democracy works best, namely with an opposition. At the same time, if the problems are huge, there may be little room for developing alternative ideas, especially if things have to be realized within the EU and a global economy.

Clearly the current political debate is far from being 'rational'.  The established parties engage in scaremongering when describing what could happen if Syriza came into power. By attempting to cash in on fear, they reproduce in turn a fear of change. Hence they end up contradicting themselves when advocating reform, entrepreneurship and a progressive social economy.

Already fear was a decisive factor in the 2012 elections as if no one knew really anymore for whom to vote. The fragmentation of politics meant also the loss in popular vote by especially PASOK. The outcome of the May election was inclusive since none of the party leaders managed to form a coalition, so that the election had to be repeated on June 17. Only then Samaras got his way and formed the current government with Neo Democratia the leading party supported by two coalition partners, PASOK and the party of Kouvelis – the latter leaving the government after Samaras decided to close down ERT in 2013. The fear was connected at that time with the question will Greece default, leave the Eurozone and even the European Union? Many wanted a fundamental change of the entire system, others preferred stability to ensure some kind of continuity despite more harsh measures in the works due to the presence of the Troika.

All along the general public feels that huge corruption was to be blamed for the enormous state deficit. To this has to be added that the way the LaGarde list was handled, namely evasively, it made obvious to everyone that no one was really prepared to draw practical consequences. That fueled quite another despair and fuels still further anti-politics attitudes but which have gone largely underground or express themselves in the support of extreme groups e.g. Chrysi Avgi.

Ever since the Memorandum of Understanding had been signed and Greece was bailed out, Tsipras and Syriza have been critical of the crude measures which followed a wrong interpretation of the terms as stipulated by the Troika through the Memorandum of Understanding.  Alexis Tsipras makes that plain when he states the MoU means also policy.

There are key elements which go against any Left wing self understanding, privatization one of them, another the cut in wages and pensions of civil servants. This includes as well university professors and teachers at school. They form together with other social groups badly affected by the austerity measures the main support of the Syriza party. As a matter of fact, some call it the new PASOK with the latter having gathered equally supporters prior to the first election victory of Andreas Papandreou in 1981, and then being fostered ever since due to PASOK staying in power with the exception of three years (1990-93) until 2004, and then again after 2009 until 2011 when a technocratic government under Papademos was formed. In all of these twists and turns of Greek politics, one thing has to be kept in mind that there is still the KKE or the Communist party while the 2012 elections, there came into parliament for the first time since the Military Dictatorship 18 members of Chrysi Avgi. On how this rise of the Extreme Right is perceived and handled by Syriza, aside from blaming the austerity programme for it, is not known so well in public. Naturally the traditional and the New Left have their theories of Fascism and Neo-Fascism, but it would be interesting to what extent Tsipras is already going through a huge learning curve when addressing the entrepreneurs of Greece.

Most entrepreneurs would say they have not enough liquidity or the financial capacity to invest, while foreign investors are far and few in between the money the state did supply in the past with regards to major investment programmes, and this via the Structural Fund and other EU sources. Having said this, it is still not clear where the Left Party takes its self consciousness and aligns it with modern reality? For the problem of the Left is also an open secret since the party is beset by many smaller fractions keeping right now together, but in case of forming government and then having to make some painful decisions, it is questionable if that base can hold together. Moreover, there are many traditional viewpoints about state ownership prevailing so that one comment made at the Economic Forum was typical of the fear being painted against the wall, namely that of having with Syriza in government a Soviet style central planning system. Here indeed it is a question how far Tsipras is prepare to go in order to ensure that there is a strong state?

Experts who know the Greek economy and the workings of its institutions, parties, various interest groups etc. say that one thing to agree on with Tsipras is the need to control the banks. They have been receiving billions of Euros without any control as to where this money goes. It is, therefore, still an enormous question how is it possible under the guise of responsible government to continue with contrived business deals and shaky, equally fraudulent financial schemes which do not benefit the country as such, but some specific individuals. Indeed, the crisis is fore mostly a political and a moral one, and the economic one an outcome of both mismanagement of money and continuous abuse of state power to finance schemes which are not really sustainable by any normal measure.

Tsipras has remained outspoken despite Greek reality being not only tough but also very difficult to come to terms with. So much is kept in the dark while ongoing manipulations, use of the lie, means no real information exists which could be trusted. It begins with the faulty statistics which kept the size of the real deficit for too long under cover and does not end with still not having a land registrary in place. Where to find the leverage for making possible a significant change in this kind of political culture constantly undermined by letting certain connections play out with favourism being extended to those who will pay back in terms of giving political support to but one direction the country as a whole can take when realizing what interest groups have staked already their claims of state resources?

Of interest is that he speaks about national unity needed if the problems of the economy are to be resolved without enticing a clash between Left wing and Right wing forces. In the past that polarization in Greek society has led to a bloody civil war and to years of suppression of the Left by the Right wing forces. Only when Andreas Papandreou assumed power in 1981 did this polarization recede because one of his first acts was to grant to the Left the same Rights for pensions and compensations when having suffered unjust measures. It meant after 1981 a re-intergration of the Left into Greek society. Still, how these complexes shall play out in future, that is difficult to say. As Yiorgos Chouliaras would put it, even if everything appears to be calm on the surface, there are strong currents underneath and which can erupt at any given moment.

It can be equally wondered what makes Alexis Tsipras refer to growth as prime goal to get the economy re-started when so many problems are connected with such an orientation. It is not the magic formula for creating jobs nor can it be said to be compatible with sustainable development. Often it seems he refers more to a likely development which he would like to see happen, rather than to economic growth per say. If the Greek society is to change over time, then time and space needs to be given to the kind of cultural adaptation which does look ahead, into the future, while using nevertheless the experiences made so far as prime base or rather as cultural orientation. If a sense of timing is crucial in politics, then the past, present and future must also conjoin to enable a forward looking society remain attentive to the need to economize its rare resources. This includes the environment and the very people who wish not only to gain a profit but also to be able to live in freedom. Here Mike van Graan has said important things about how to approach alone the question of the creative sector, for creativity and innovation are not just givens, and they must be treated with care. Hence some positive problematization of the term 'growth' would have been most welcome in such an important speech, but it never came.

Tsipras evokes the image of a strong state which the opposition within the Conservative Party denounce already as a Soviet type of central planning state. Naturally in times when political debates are literally submerged due to the dominant theme being "it is the economy, stupid!" (Bill Clinton), there is no longer a truthful engagement for making sure political ideas enhance rather than destroy human substance. If the Economist describes an unease over all kinds of Populist parties making the political options for the traditional and established parties ever smaller, such as the AfD in Germany or Marie LePen in France, then there is the added need to overcome a simple disgust with politics even though a strong state is definitely in the interest of those who feel not protected enough when faced by a ruthless economy. As one man working at a gasoline station in Athens stated, he enjoyed working in Germany because there the state made sure one was paid on time, whereas here he never knows at the end of the month when he will get paid and if how much of the money which had been agreed upon. There is no reliability especially in the socalled free economy. His interest in a strong state would be to ensure regular payment. Of interest is therefore that Nobel prize winner for economics in 2014, Jean Tirole speaks likewise of a need for a strong state which he explains in a recent interview as follows:

Antoine Juillard: “In the media today we’re talking a lot more about the economy than politics. Do you think the governance of a state will be mostly economic in the future?


Jean Tirole: “The economy, including the market economy, needs a strong state. The modern state is a state that is light but strong at the same time. That means it’s not too excessive. And it’s strong in the sense that it’s capable of enforcing competition rules, and of course redistributes wealth through taxation, to avoid monopolies. It’s a state that stands up to lobby groups and carries out reforms.”

(Source: http://www.euronews.com/2014/10/17/nobel-winner-jean-tirole-speaks-out-in-favour-of-a-european-budget/)


Hatto Fischer



CV of Alexis Tsipras, Leader of the Opposition, President of Syriza

Alexis Tsipras was born in 1974 in Athens, the year when the Junta collapsed.

He received his civil engineering degree from the National Technical University of Athens, where he also completed postgraduate studies in Urban and Regional Planning. This brought him into contact with certain key professors at Polytechnic. It reminds as well of Tritis, first Minister in Andreas Papandreou's government created 1981, and then mayor of Athens, since he came as well from urban planning.

Tsipras has worked as well as civil engineer in the construction industry and conducte a series of studies regarding urban planning inAthens.

When still at high school, he had joined already then the Left, and participated in the pupil's movement during 1990-91. He continued to do the same while attending university by joining there the movement.

In 1999 he was elected Secretary of the Youth of Synaspismos, a position he kept until March 2003. It was a very different time then with the Olympic Games approaching in the following year, and Athens having gone a revamping e.g. new Metro and Unification of Archaeological sites.

Interesting to know if this had any impact upon his personal and political development.

During the 4th Congress of Synaspismos (December 2004) he was elected to the Central Political Committee and also to the Political Secretariat of the Party, where he was responsible for Education and Youth policies.

In October 2006 he was a Mayoral candidate for the city of Athens, representing the municipal movement „Open City“, which came in third with a percentage of 10.5%.

During the 5th Congress of Synaspismos (February 2008), he was elected Presient of the Party.

In the national elections of 2009 he was elected Member of the Greek Parliament and became Chairman of the parliamentary group of Syriza.

During the 3rd Congress of the European Left Party (December 2010) in Paris, he was elected Vice President. Since the general election of 2012 when he was re-elected as a Member of Parliament, he is the Leader of the Main Opposition in Greece.

During that election, Syriza came close to winning the elections and thus would have put the entire austerity programme in question.

During the 4th Congress of the European Left Party (December 2013), he was nominated as a candidate for the Presidency of the European Commission and was also re-elected Vice President of the European Left Party.




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