Europe's anti-austerity front hails Syriza win

26th January 2015, Comments 0 comments

Radical left party Syriza's Greek election victory blew wind in the sails of anti-austerity movements across Europe on Monday, led by Spain's Podemos, which is vowing a similar general election win this year.

Left- and right-wing opposition parties from Britain and Ireland to France, Italy, Spain and Portugal hailed Syriza's win as a reproach to the tough public budget cuts imposed by their mainstream rivals in the recent economic crisis.

"The Greeks are going to have a true Greek president, not a delegate of German Chancellor Angela Merkel," said Pablo Iglesias, leader of Podemos, which has topped several opinion polls and is aiming for an absolute majority in Spain's election due in November.

Parties such as Podemos accuse Merkel and other European leaders of forcing hardship on citizens through spending cuts and tax hikes in the crisis, which saw unemployment soar.

- UKIP, National Front hail Syriza -

Elsewhere, eurosceptic British party UKIP and France's National Front, one of Europe's most powerful far-right parties, hailed Syriza's victory.

UKIP leader Nigel Farage called it "a desperate cry for help from the Greek people, millions of whom have been impoverished by the euro experiment".

French National Front leader Marine Le Pen called it "a monstrous democratic slap in the face by the Greek people to the European Union".

Also in France, one of Syriza's left-wing allies, Left Front leader Jean-Luc Melenchon, said: "The arrogant all-powerfulness of the economic liberals and their so-called miracle formulae to save the economy... have failed in Greece."

He hoped that "by a domino effect Europe will be refounded and reorganised in a completely different way".

Italy's main eurosceptic parties hailed the Greek election result as an overdue signal that austerity policies were not working.

Matteo Salvini, leader of the anti-immigrant Northern League, called it "a lovely big slap in the face for the Soviet Union of Europe and the euro of unemployment and the banks".

Several parties in Ireland, which like Greece and Portugal was bailed out by international creditors in return for imposing tough money-saving measures, also hailed Syriza's win.

Paul Murphy, an Irish lawmaker from the leftwing Anti-Austerity Alliance, called the result a "decisive rejection by the Greek people of savage austerity and a campaign of fear run by the Greek and EU establishment".

Syriza's vows to seize back control of Greece's financial affairs struck a chord among other bailed-out states.

"Syriza has promised to renegotiate Greece's debt... and to call for a European debt conference, which would be in Ireland's interests also," said Pearse Doherty, spokesman for Irish republican party Sinn Fein.

In Portugal, some members of the small radical Left Bloc and leaders of a popular protest movement known as Get Lost Troika say they are planning to found a new party named Juntos Podemos -- "Together We Can" -- in a nod to Podemos of Spain.

- 'Can't compare' Spain and Greece -

Syriza's victory raised warnings by economists of a potential return to the financial uncertainty in the eurozone that peaked in 2012. A similar result in a much bigger country like Spain could cause far worse jitters.

Spain's government leapt to play down the parallels. Like Greek leaders, it imposed tough budget cuts in the economic crisis, and says the measures are now helping the economy recover.

"Greece cannot be compared to Spain," said Spain's Economy Minister Luis de Guindos in an interview published in Spanish financial newspaper Expansion.

"Spain avoided being bailed out and that is the key to the economic recovery we are now undergoing."

Leading Spanish newspapers El Pais and El Mundo also played down parallels between Syriza's win and Podemos's electoral chances.

But conservative newspaper ABC warned of "an anti-establishment and anti-Europe convergence of extreme groups that claim the support of angry populations".


© 2015 AFP

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