The results of the Greek general election seem a foregone conclusion as Alexis Tsipras of the left wing Syriza party looks set to saunter home comfortably.
The former communist, who very nearly won the last election after the European Commission all but forced the country to go to the polls when then-Prime Minister George Papandreou wanted to hold a national referendum on Troika-imposed austerity and bail outs for the collapsing economy, is currently leading the polls at 35 per cent, the Independent reports.
In a country where voting is mandatory, he has an untainted appeal to voters, being able to hold his hands up and say he was not involved in the financial crisis, in Greece joining the single currency or in any of the negotiations which have taken place since 2012.
For the people of a country that was rocked by violent riots, saw children being put up for adoption by parents unable to afford to feed them and one elderly man even killing himself in front of the Hellenic Parliament, they find his words alluring and his seemingly indomitable spirit mesmerising.
In true left wing style, Tsipras has campaigned on reversing the austerity measures imposed on Greece by the negotiations of the EU bail out and there is fear he will even refuse to repay the €240 billion debt the country owes its creditors.
Writing in the Financial Times, Tsipras tried to calm international financial and political fears which his election may bring, saying “A Syriza government will respect Greece’s obligation, as a eurozone member, to maintain a balanced budget, and will commit to quantitative targets.”
But officials in the Brussels and Frankfurt will not rest easy on those words alone, knowing the former Communist has previously said, “Austerity is not part of the European treaties; democracy and the principle of popular sovereignty are.”
Managing Director of the IMF Christine Lagarde fired a warning shot across the bows, telling the Irish Times, “Collective endeavours are welcome, but at the same time a debt is a debt and it is a contract.”
Syriza’s popularity is also due to its appealing policies for a population which has endured years of hardship and embarrassment. His pledges to raise the minimum wage, give food and electricity as well as creating 300,000 new jobs sounds like a fresh start for many struggling voters.
And that demographic is considerable in number, with around a quarter of Greeks unemployed, businesses unable to reopen with foreign direct investment virtually nil and the Greek ten year bond yield currently at 9.47 per cent compared to the Bank of England’s rate of 1.55 per cent.
Since jobs were cut – many in the public sector as the wages were simply unaffordable for the government – prostitution has soared by 150 per cent with some women forced to sell their bodies for just €5 a time.
With the crisis continuing and no real way out for the country while it has to share an interest rate with Germany, it’s no wonder so many desperate Greeks are looking to these very left wing ideas: no one on the right has so far been brave enough to stand up for Brussels, let alone speak the truth which is that Greece needs to return to the Drachma.
But EFDD Group Leader Nigel Farage MEP thinks that despite his tough talk, Alexis Tsipras may not be as hard line as he makes out.
“I suspect he’ll be more prepared to compromise” he told Breitbart London. “I doubt he is going to stand up to Mrs Merkel the way some commentators are saying he will.”
But even if he takes a step back, the European Commission and IMF will not be happy about changing the terms of the bail outs, knowing it could well lead to reopened negotiations with other bailed out countries including Ireland.