‘The Future has just started’: The Greek National Elections and the end of Austerity in Europe

Marina Prentoulis

Marina Prentoulis reflects on developments in Greece as fresh elections are called.

After three voting rounds, the Greek coalition government has failed to secure the support of 180 MPs in order to appoint a new president. According to the constitution, the Greek parliament has to dissolve within 10 days and national elections have to take place within a month, estimated for the 25th January.

Immediately after the results, the Greek media turned their attention to the negative reaction of the markets. Supported by the statements of conservative officials, the Greek media continue their blackmailing campaign, in order to avoid an electoral win for the deep anti -austerity sentiment amongst Greek society. Their message is clear: the economy will collapse if SYRIZA (the Radical Left Coalition leading the polls) comes to power. A very striking statement from the conservative PM Antonis Samaras exemplifies how those supporting the austerity policies and the pauperization of the Greek people understand the relationship between economy and democracy. As the PM said: “We did everything we could to avoid the elections”. In other words, in the name of economic stability (which translates to the domination of neoliberal policies in Europe) the right of the people of Europe to decide their future has to be “cancelled”.

The significance of the forthcoming Greek election challenges exactly the logic of this sinister, irrational and yet widely accepted link between democracy and neo-liberalism.  It is astonishing how neo-liberalism with a history of less than fifty years has managed to persuade so many people that it is the only alternative. It is now time to put an end to its dominance. It starts from Greece but it has to become our common struggle across Europe. The arrogance of the Greek conservative official who announced today that “there is no government in Europe which has similar positions as SYRIZA” needs to be confronted by all socialist, social-democratic and leftish parties of Europe. Only then we will be able to start building a Peoples’ Europe.

Marina Prentoulis is a Senior Lecturer in Media and Politics, University of East Anglia.

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