Dimitris Rapidis



Courtesy: Dimitris Arvanitis ©
SYRIZA’s landslide is definitely something many media and political analysts would not expect. Over 900 correspondents from European and international media were in Athens these last weeks to cover one of the most interesting and crucial elections in the Union. Why? Because the radical left party of SYRIZA, a party that until 2010 was around 5-7%, achieved to immensely increase its electoral appeal, reaching around 37% and making history in Greece. In the center of the debate was the economic program of SYRIZA, with the majority of media correspondents struggling to clear up what the priorities and policy planning of the new government are.

As the next weeks and months will be -once again- of paramount importance for Greece, it is vital to know what the short and mid-term goals are.

Short-term Goals

1. Restitution of the minimum wage of 75o euro in the private sector;

2. Restitution of collective agreements in the labour market;

3. Introduction of bill protecting these vulnerable parts of the population having overdue debts (i.e. mortgage loans for first home/propriety), along with the establishment of regional / peripheral resolution committees dealing with fiscal claims;

4. Reinstatement of legislation that protects employees from being subject to massive layoffs;

5. Reinstatement of the minimum pension wage of 36o euro for those not being covered by social security nets;

6. Resolution of social security burdens for the self-employed and people with disabilities;

7. Re-issuance of licensing for media corporations from zero basis to combat against corruption, bribery, nepotism and bring about financial and administrative transparency and capacity;

8. Granting of free electricity for 300,000 households that cannot afford the relevant bills.

Mid-term Goals

1. Introduction of growth clause as prerequisite for debt repayments and public debt cut on its biggest part (i.e. provision aligned with the Maastricht Treaty’s limit of 60% debt on GDP);

2. A 5 billion public-led investment program to soar and invigorate the domestic economy and create 200,000-300,000 new job positions;

3. Combat of corruption and tax evasion, while increasing taxation for highest incomes and pushing-up minimum non-taxed annual income to 12,000;

4. Re-evaluation and rationalization of property taxes to address the real capacity of tax payers.

The broader aim of the party is to re-balance wealth distribution, create conditions that will increase consumption, facilitate state’s income burdens in order to financially support the most vulnerable parts of the population, and bring liquidity in the state’s social security funds.

Personal Comment

The IMF has officially and repeatedly admitted grave mistakes in Greece’s aid packages, especially with regards to the improper planning that did not take into account the special conditions of the domestic economy and market. In addition to that, the previous government did not implement structural reforms, therefore leaving the major side-effects of spending cuts and increased taxation to the shoulders of tax payers.

In this respect, the Junker’s stimulus plan and the quantitative easing of ECB’s President Draghi can be both considered as clear decisions that acknowledge the weaknesses of austerity and the need to address growth and soar the economy through massive investments, not only through borrowing.

What is more, we need to point out that excessive and destructive debt rates is not only Greece’s problem. It only takes to have a look on Italy’s, Spain’s, France’s public debt to acknowledge the depth and gravity of the problem. Therefore, the discussion over an EU Debt Relief Summit will soon come into Eurogroup’s agenda. Departing from that, Eurozone needs an investment-led convergence and recovery program to avoid a complete collapse, and not some short-term, frivolous, and irrational remedies.

To contact the author:

Dimitris Rapidis at d.rapidis@bridgingeurope.net

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