In May 6 elections, the country's two main parties–the conservative New Democracy and the center-left PASOK–suffered catastrophic losses and the Coalition of the Radical Left, or SYRIZA, was catapulted from minor-party status into second place. Since then, New Democracy, SYRIZA and PASOK have each in turn tried to form an alliance of political parties that could command a majority in parliament, but none has been successful.
SYRIZA scored its stunning result because it has promised to repudiate the austerity measures imposed on Greece in return for a financial bailout from its debt crisis by the so-called "troika" of the European Union, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund. The troika's extortion terms–agreed to by former Prime Minister Lucas Papademos at the head of a coalition government involving New Democracy and PASOK–are encapsulated in a document known as the "Memorandum," short for Memorandum of Understanding/Memorandum of Economic and Financial Policy (MoU/MEFP).
New Democracy and PASOK are accusing SYRIZA of threatening a financial cataclysm by pulling Greece out of the euro, but SYRIZA has refused to budge on its call to scrap the Memorandum. This position is drawing even more support–opinion polls on the outcome of a second election currently show SYRIZA overcoming New Democracy's narrow margin of victory on May 6 and placing first, with as much as 25 percent of the vote.
In this letter to the president of the European Union's executive body, written while SYRIZA was attempting to form a government, , the leader of the coalition in parliament, repeats SYRIZA's determination to rescind the austerity measures that have plunged Greece into an economic depression.
Athens, Wednesday, May 10, 2012
Mr. José Manuel Barroso
President of the European Commission
Dear Mr. President,
I am sending this letter, subsequent to the return of the exploratory mandate that the President of the Hellenic Republic had given me, so that I could ascertain the possibility of forming a Government which would enjoy the confidence of the Parliament, according to our Constitution. This letter follows that of February 21.
The vote of the Greek people on Sunday, May 6, politically delegitimizes the MoU/MEFP, which was co-signed by the previous government of Lucas Papademos and the leaders of the two political parties that had underpinned the government's parliamentary majority. Together, those parties registered a loss of approximately 3.5 million votes, drawing just 33.5 percent of the total vote.
Please note that, prior to that, the MoU/MEFP had already been delegitimized in terms of its economic effectiveness. But it is not only that the MoU/MEFP has failed to meet its own targets. It has also failed to address both the structural imbalances of the Greek economy and acute social inequalities. SYRIZA has over the last few years brought to the fore these endogenous flaws. Our proposals for concrete reforms have been ignored by all the governments with which the European Union cooperated closely.
Please also note that, because of the MoU/MEFP policies, Greece is the only European country in peacetime to have been through five consecutive year of deep recession, up to 2012. More than that, the PSI [Private Sector Involvement in Greece's debt restructuring] has failed to credibly ensure the long-term sustainability of Greece's rising public debt as a percentage of its GDP. Austerity cannot be the cure to recession. An immediate and socially just reversal of the downward trend of our economy is, thus, imperative.
We urgently need to ensure economic and social stability in our country. To this end, we need to undertake all the necessary policy initiatives to reverse austerity and recession. Apart from lacking any democratic legitimacy, the application of this "internal devaluation" program is leading our economy onto a catastrophic path, while at the same time annulling all the prerequisites for recovery. Internal devaluation has lead to a humanitarian crisis.
Therefore, we need to reexamine the whole framework of existing strategy if the threat to social stability and cohesion in Greece, and the stability of the whole eurozone, is not to be threatened.
The common future of European peoples is threatened by those catastrophic choices. We deeply believe that this crisis is European, and therefore the solution lies at a European level.
President of the Parliamentary Group of the Coalition of the Radical Left
Vice President of the Party of the European Left