“Where will Tsipras find the money?”

Mons. Papamanolis, President of the Bishops' Conference, comments on the outcomes of the vote. "Hope is created with facts, not with words"

“A historical vote? We shall see. With these elections Greeks are telling the EU that they intend to follow a path marked not by austerity but by solidarity because it’s on the pillar of solidarity that the new Europe should repose”. Msgr. Franghiskos Papamanolis, President of the Greek Bishops’ Conference, commented on the outcomes of the elections of January 25, marked by a large gain – as expected – for radical left party Syriza led by Alexis Tsipras with 149 seats, two short of a total majority government. Outgoing president Antonis Samaras’ Nea Demokratia ranked second with 76 seats, while the far-right group, with clear pro-Nazi and racist connotations, Golden Dawn, placed third with 17 seats. The neo-political formation To potami (The River) won the same number of seats, while Amel (Greeks independents) won 13 seats: this group will support SYRIZA in an unusual left-right coalition cemented by an aversion to the euro and the Troika. The remaining seats go to the Communist Party (15) and to the Socialist PASOK (13) that suffered a dramatic defeat. What kind of vote was expressed on Sunday in Greece? “It was a vote of anger, the expression of a frustrated people that suffers, that didn’t see any form of sensitivity towards their difficulties expressed by the previous government led by Samaras. The population has voted for the party whom they believe can give them some hope. On television Samaras did nothing but provoke fear and awe in the population. His statements against Tsipras – ‘if he goes to power the sacrifices made so far will have served nothing’ – were not heard. The outcomes of the vote are clear. But it must also be said that the election campaign has not clarified anything, on neither side. No Party spoke about political programs”. The people have voted for change by punishing the traditional parties like the conservative Nea Demokratia and Socialist PASOK, that ruled the country for over 40 years… “Voters chose Tsipras to get him into action, after the experience with the previous Governments. Samaras did nothing but announce that there would be no further taxes, but he contradicted himself shortly after. People can’t take it any longer and this vote confirms a desire for change, in order to leave despair and crisis behind. As a result, the traditional parties were the biggest losers. But there is a fact that should not be underestimated in this vote…”. Which is…? “A high percentage of abstention, amounting to approximately 40%. Tsipras won 36% out of 60%, the total number of those who went to the polls. This should prompt the new leader to work hard to infuse strength, voice and hope also to those, faced with the scourge of the crisis, who decided not to vote out of despair of disaffection”. To govern Tsipras needs an ally. Thus an agreement with the leader of the nationalist party Amel, Panos Kammenos has taken shape. Two political groups at the opposite poles united by opposition to EU austerity… “Perhaps an alliance with To Potami would balance out a certain degree of radicalism characterising Tsipras. But an agreement with Amel could instead fuel an anti-euro policy. Syriza attacked European austerity politics and promised hope and wellbeing. But the population cannot only live on hope. Hope is created with facts and not with words”. What are the first concrete steps that the population expects from the new Premier?  “He spoke of tax cuts, of increased minimum wage (from 450 to 751 euro, ed.’s note.), of free healthcare for the poor, just to mention a few points presented during Syriza’s election campaign. But the question is: how? Where will the money be found? Will it suffice not to pay the debts, or erase them, as Tsipras said? Nobody has given a full answer to this question. Achieving these results will require fighting against a great deal of corruption”. What do you think of Golden Dawn as the third party? “These are scary figures. It’s very high percentage. And it should be considered that almost all the MPs of the previous legislature were arrested, including its leader. Also this result is a sign of the state of desperation of our people”.

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