Paris – The Egyptian adage goes: “You’d think he’s Moses. But, in reality, he’s Pharaoh.” Across the Mediterranean, from one great civilization to another great civilization that saying resonates today, in Athens.
Alexis Tsipras is a young man, but he is not new to politics. He led his Syriza leftwing party into power, vowing as a true democrat to end the tyranny of the Troika and to stand up to the foreign powers that had been tearing apart the Greek society, reducing the Greeks from dreams of a better tomorrow to pre-death palpitations caused by the survival instinct, and destroying their democracy in the process. For a people who had invented democracy, that tyranny was an offense never to be forgiven.
Yes, there was an unbearable economic situation that no other country in Europe had known for decades. The destruction that Greece had suffered was typical of war times, not of a recession. But this was not all that mattered. The humiliation that the Greeks had suffered as they heard the declarations of European technocrats, some of whom would rather think of a Brazilian soccer player when they heard the name “Socrates”, was unprecedented; from IMF President Christine Lagarde calling on the Greek people to pay their taxes, when she herself didn’t pay any, to the demeaning paternalistic rhetoric of a Germany that hadn’t exorcized its soul from the demons of a past all too significant for Europeans to forget. That rhetoric was not the mere expression of a hardline government’s position, as it came equally from the leaders of Berlin and from the German press which spread atrocious lies and dishonorable stereotypes about the Greeks and their situation.
This happened on the watch of a Europe that had surrendered itself to Berlin and to a banking system run by hungry insatiable vultures. These vultures had helped put Greece in that situation with debt that they very well knew Athens couldn’t afford. Yet, plenty was done to pay them back, transfer their losses to the Greek people, who were thus burdened with a nearly usury system, as they kept being bailed out to pay back this debt; a vicious circle that no country could bear. Adding harm to injury, Greece’s woes indirectly earned Germany 100 billion euros, as they decreased Berlin’s borrowing costs, due to investors flocking to German bonds for safety, which decreased their interest rates.
The Greeks summoned their democracy, their history, and their culture to save them from such a tragic fate. Their center-right and their center-left had been granting to the Troika and to Berlin most of their wishes, no matter the cost to the Greek people. And harrowing were the stories of the misery caused by the plague of austerity that contaminated Greece. Poverty, a resurgence in depression cases, suicides, violence, and, worst of all, a total loss of hope across the Greek society ensued.
These chains had to be broken. And so the Greeks turned to Syriza and its leader, the charming Alexis Tsipras. They made a last ditch effort, exercising democracy with mastery and freedom that only its inventors could demonstrate. And Tsipras was brilliant. He had patiently waited and galvanized his troops. He made his voice heard, expressing what so many Greeks needed to say. And so Syriza progressed, and its ideas gathered momentum, while the center-right and the center-left were making their way out of power due to the calamitous effects of their policies of surrender to the Troika.
In January, a deadlock in the Vouli – the Greek parliament – had come to cause snap elections. Tsipras vowed to put an end to the Troika and to deal with Europe on an equal footing, were he to become the prime minister of the country. The Greeks voted, giving most seats to his party which had to resort to only one minor coalition partner, sovereignist party Anel.
Election night, on January 25, was a euphoric night for the Greeks. Tsipras addressed them with a meaningful “Athenians”. He repeated his vows. He sent a strong message to Berlin and to the Troika. And he walked proud, without a tie, among his fellow citizens.
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