September 20, 2015
Contact: Dan Beeton, 202-256-6116
Washington, D.C.- The Greek election will not resolve the most important problems facing the country, CEPR co-Director Mark Weisbrot said today. With almost a third of the votes counted, it appeared that Syriza was the clear winner with a projected total of 35.5 percent of votes, even though the party’s leader, Alexis Tsipras, had reversed course earlier this year and agreed to implement austerity measures in return for a 86 billion euro ($97 billion) bailout package. Center-right New Democracy was second with about 28 percent, and New Democracy leader Vangelis Meimarakis quickly conceded to Syriza and Tsipras.
“Financial terrorism by the European authorities has succeeded, for now,” Weisbrot said. “With a gun to their head, most voters were convinced that there was no choice but to accept continuing depression, for this year and 2016. But there are in fact better choices than the major parties were offering, and there will likely be a number of battles ahead against the implementation of further austerity.”
The IMF has projected that Greek GDP will shrink by a further 2.5 percent this year, and European officials have forecast recession for 2016 as well. Greece has lost more than a quarter of its output since 2008, and unemployment remains at 24.6 percent.
Weisbrot noted that there was a record low turnout, so Syriza’s percent of eligible voters was probably around 20 percent. Still, he said, it was impressive that the party was able to remain in power after the European authorities had taken such extreme measures, including direct sabotage of the economy, in order to discredit them and drive them from power. These included the ECB’s denial of credit necessary to the financial system, forcing a shutdown of the banking system that guaranteed continued depression. “It is not surprising that, within the framework of surrendering to the European authorities, that voters would choose Syriza, which had at least made an attempt to save the economy from their destruction,” said Weisbrot.
“No country ever has to accept a prolonged depression and mass unemployment of this magnitude,” Weisbrot said. “This was a lesson learned during the Great Depression 80 years ago, and the European authorities are trying to make people unlearn it.”