Europe Economy

We Will Keep Greece in the Euro Zone: Leftists

Greek leftist party Syriza is committed to keeping Greece in the euro zone, its leader Alexis Tsipras said on Wednesday.

Greek Parliament
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Writing in the Financial Times newspaper, the 37-year-old president of the left wing coalition said it was not his party’s intention to take the country out of the currency union if it wins a mandate in elections in four days’ time.

But he said if Syriza does win, he will seek to renegotiate the terms of the county’s current bailout deal with the European Union, International Monetary Fund and European Central Bank – the so-called Troika.

“The people of Greece want to replace the failed old memorandum of understanding (as signed in March with the EU and International Monetary Fund) with a ‘national plan for reconstruction and growth’.

This is necessary both to avert Greece’s humanitarian crisis and to save the common currency,” Tsipras wrote in the FT.

The Syriza leader also promised to “reform Greece’s corrupt and inefficient political and regulatory systems,” adding that the people of Greece now expect their politicians to take “immediate responsibility for averting the country’s evolving humanitarian crisis.”

Greece has now been in recession for five years, with unemployment running at 21.7 percent, according to the latest figures from official European statistics agency Eurostat.

And apparent political deadlock over a way out of the crisis has fueled support for extremist parties. Far right political party Golden Dawn gained 6.97 percent of the popular vote, and 21 parliamentary seats, in the first, inconclusive elections held on May 6, having been a political non-entity previously.

Tsipras claimed his party was the only one capable of leading Greece out of the economic and political instability that has plagued the country, saying Syriza does not carry the political baggage of the established main political parties.

He also addressed Greece’s failure to collect taxes, arguing the problem of low public revnue was the result of corruption with tax concessions and exemptions granted to special interests by previous governments.

Tsipras said a low effective tax rate on personal income and capital and a “highly ineffective method of tax collection” were also to blame for many of the country’s current problems.

The Syriza leader said he would not only raise taxes if he becomes Greece’s next prime minister, but ensure those taxes were adequately collected.