This gentleman has clearly shown by his example what it takes to be a true champion of democracy. The ability to take up power for a cause & also lay it down for that cause. How many politicians these days have that ability? More power to him and his party!
The victory of Greece’s anti-austerity Syriza party is a monstrous democratic slap to the European Union, believes Marine Le Pen, leader of France’s far-right National Front party, adding that for her this success means “the trial of the euro-austerity.”
“I welcome the monstrous Democratic slap the Greek people has given to the European Union,” Le Pen told France’s RTL radio.
According to Le Pen, Syriza’s triumph is “the first result of the unprecedented suffering undergone by the Greek people under the influence of the EU in recent years.”
The Greek election debate is one of freedom, she believes.
“Do we want to be free? With the European Union, we are not… Neither our immigration policy, nor our monetary policy or agriculture.”
Sunday’s elections in Greece are “opening the trial of the ‘euro-austerity’,” according to Le Pen.
“When we try to avoid democracy, the boomerang always returns with increased speed.”
Le Pen earlier said that though her party “doesn’t not agree with all of [Syriza’s] program,” France’s National Front “will celebrate their victory.”
“There is a fracturing in Europe, which is seeing the people taking power against the totalitarianism of the European Union and their accomplices, the financial markets,” she added.
Le Pen’s father, Jean-Marie Le Pen, who led the National Front party from its foundation in 1972 until 2011, welcomed “the defeat of the European Union in Athens.”
Syriza’s win was welcomed by France’s Socialist party, several MPs from which protested France’s President Francois Hollande anti-austerity policies last year.
“The victory of a party on the left is always good news for the Socialist party in France,” said First Secretary Jean-Christophe Cambadélis.
Jean-Luc Melenchon, France’s most prominent far-left politician described Syriza’s success as “pure happiness.”
“This is a new page for Europe. Maybe we can take the opportunity to rebuild Europe, which has become the federal Europe of the liberals,” Mélenchon told France’s BFM TV.
On Sunday, Syriza won 149 seats in the 300-seat Greek parliamentary election. Party leader Alexis Tsipras said Greece leaves behind five years of humiliation and suffering, fear and authoritarianism while addressing thousands of cheering supporters at a rally in Athens.
Tsipras is moving to build a stable government and plans to get rid of Athens’ three main creditors – the European Union, the International Monetary Fund and the European Central Bank.
Governments today in both Europe and the United States have succeeded in casting government spending as reckless wastefulness that has made the economy worse. In contrast, they have advanced a policy of draconian budget cuts–austerity–to solve the financial crisis. We are told that we have all lived beyond our means and now need to tighten our belts. This view conveniently forgets where all that debt came from. Not from an orgy of government spending, but as the direct result of bailing out, recapitalizing, and adding liquidity to the broken banking system. Through these actions private debt was rechristened as government debt, while those responsible for generating it walked away scot free, placing the blame on the state, and the burden on the taxpayer.
That burden now takes the form of a global turn to austerity, the policy of reducing domestic wages and prices to restore competitiveness and balance the budget. The problem, according to political economist Mark Blyth, is that austerity is a very dangerous idea.
First of all, it doesn’t work. As the past four years and countless historical examples from the last 100 years show, while it makes sense for any one state to try and cut its way to growth, it simply cannot work when all states try it simultaneously: all we do is shrink the economy.
In the worst case, austerity policies worsened the Great Depression and created the conditions for seizures of power by the forces responsible for the Second World War: the Nazis and the Japanese military establishment. As Blyth amply demonstrates, the arguments for austerity are tenuous and the evidence thin.
Rather than expanding growth and opportunity, the repeated revival of this dead economic idea has almost always led to low growth along with increases in wealth and income inequality. Austerity demolishes the conventional wisdom, marshaling an army of facts to demand that we recognize austerity for what it is, and what it costs us.
About the Author: Mark Blyth is a faculty fellow at the Watson Institute, professor of international political economy in Brown’s Political Science Department, and director of the University’s undergraduate programs in development studies and international relations.
He is the author of Great Transformations: Economic Ideas and Institutional Change in the Twentieth Century; editor of The Routledge Handbook of International Political Economy: IPE as a Global Conversation, which surveys different schools of IPE around the globe; and co-editor of a volume on constructivist theory and political economy titled Constructing the International Economy. He is working on a new book that questions the political and economic sustainability of liberal democracies, called The End of the Liberal World?
Blyth is a member of the Warwick Commission on International Financial Reform. He is a member of the editorial board of the Review of International Political Economy, and his articles have appeared in journals such as the American Political Science Review, Perspectives on Politics, Comparative Politics, and World Politics.
He has a PhD in political science from Columbia University and taught at Johns Hopkins University from 1997 to 2009.
This talk was hosted by Boris Debic on behalf of Authors@Google in 2013