World Bulletin / News Desk
Just two days before general elections in Greece, leftist opposition party Syriza is gaining a tidal wave of support as its leader makes populist calls to end the country’s “national humiliation.”
Thousands of people rallied in Athens’ Omonia square Thursday night in support of the party that promises to reverse Greece’s austerity policy despite warnings from the Troika - the European Commission, International Monetary Fund and European Central Bank - to stay the course.
Alexis Tsipras, the leader of Syriza, has promised to form an anti-bailout government which will end the Troika's aid to Greece in addition to wiping out a big part of the national debt.
“On Jan. 25, we do not simply ask for the vote of the Greek people. We ask them to assign the responsibility of renewal,” Tsipras said in his address at the rally as the country continued to face a crippling economic crisis.
If Syriza wins the elections and implements its agenda, the move would mean an end to reforms and "austerity measures" enforced on Greece under the terms of the "bailouts," but could also risk the Troika refusing further financial aid.
Local media termed Tsipras support as “unprecedented,” a moment which he himself referred to as a “crucial moment in history.”
Syriza “will give a definitive end to the national humiliation and the humanitarian crisis…They will end all memorandum absurdity with the vote for Syriza,” he said.
The party leader said that Syriza was committed to locate the one percent that evaded taxes in the country. He also outlined his plan is to “reverse the social and economic dislocation to lead to economic recovery and exit the crisis.”
According to the latest opinion poll conducted by Metron Analysis, Syriza is leading over the New Democracy party, which is part of the ruling coalition in the country, with a 4.4 percent lead. Another opinion poll conducted by Rass gave Syriza a lead with 4.8 percent.
Nadia Valavani, Syriza’s Member of Parliament, told The Anadolu Agency that if her party won the upcoming elections, “We will implement a program of disengagement from the memorandum, in other words against the policy of austerity and in favor of the country’s interests.”
Also, Valavani said Syriza would negotiate with the Troika to write off a part of the debt, “which is the loop on the neck for the present and the future of Greece.”
The basic condition is the repayment with a development clause. “Only this way will the working people and the productive forces of the country be able to stand on their feet,” she said.
About preference of voters for Syriza as opposed to the ruling New Democracy party, Valavani said, “People understand the dead end policy of the current government.”
The failure to elect a new president in three presidential votes last December triggered early national elections in Greece.
Prime Minster Antonis Samaras' presidential candidate Stavros Dimas did not gain the support of the 200 lawmakers required in the first two rounds on Dec. 17 and 23 and 180 lawmakers on the last round on Dec. 29. Samaras, was forced to call for snap elections. A decree calling new elections was posted on the House of Parliament in Athens on Dec. 31, setting the date for national elections as Jan. 25.
Syriza & Turkey
About Turkish –Greek relations, Valavani said: "I think we are going through a critical period in our relations, especially given the violation of the sovereign rights of the Republic of Cyprus in its exclusive economic zone.”
She also referred to the presence of a Turkish research ship in the area and the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot suspension of talks and lack of settlement of the Cypriot issue in accordance with UN resolutions.
She stressed on the need for bilateral ties to be based on respect of international law and mutual respect for sovereignty of both countries.
Peace talks between the two sides in Cyprus were suspended in October 2013 when Turkey sent a ship to explore oil and gas resources around the island.
Turkish authorities say that both sides have rights to the offshore gas reserves around the island, while the Greek Cypriots have declared rights to what they call an "exclusive economic zone" in the waters off the south coast.