Syriza

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Coalition of the Radical Left
Συνασπισμός Ριζοσπαστικής Αριστεράς
Abbreviation SYRIZA
Leader Alexis Tsipras
Slogan Ανοίγουμε δρόμο στην ελπίδα Anígume drómo stin elpída (We open a way to hope)
Founded 2004 (as an alliance)
22 May 2012 (as a party)[1][2]
Headquarters 39 Valtetsiou, 106 81 Athens, Greece
Youth wing SYRIZA Youth
Ideology Democratic socialism[3]
Left-wing populism[4]
Eco-socialism[3][5]
Anti-capitalism[6][7]
Alter-globalization[5]
Soft euroscepticism[8][9]
Economic nationalism[10]
Political position Left-wing[11][12]
European affiliation Party of the European Left[13]
European Parliament group European United Left/Nordic Green Left[14]
Colours      Salmon (customary)
     Red (official)
Parliament
148 / 300
European Parliament
6 / 21
Regions[15]
144 / 703
Website
www.syriza.gr
Politics of Greece
Political parties
Elections

The Coalition of the Radical Left[16] (Greek: Συνασπισμός Ριζοσπαστικής Αριστεράς, Synaspismós Rizospastikís Aristerás), mostly known by its acronym Syriza (sometimes styled SYRIZA; Greek: ΣΥΡΙΖΑ, pronounced [ˈsiɾiza]), is a left-wing political party in Greece, originally founded in 2004 as a coalition of left-wing and radical left parties. It is the largest party in the Hellenic Parliament, with party chairman Alexis Tsipras serving as Prime Minister of Greece.

The coalition originally comprised a broad array of groups (thirteen in total) and independent politicians, including social democrats, democratic socialists, left-wing patriots, feminists, anti-capitalists, centrist and environmentalist groups, as well as Marxist–Leninist, Maoist, Trotskyist, Eurocommunist, Luxemburgist and also Eurosceptic components. Additionally, despite its secular ideology, many members are Christians who, like their atheistic fellow members, are opposed to the privileges of the state-sponsored Orthodox Church of Greece.[17] From 2013 the coalition became a unitary party, although it retained its name with the addition of "United Social Front".

Syriza has been characterized as an anti-establishment party,[18][19] whose success has sent "shock-waves across the EU".[20] Although it has abandoned its old identity, that of a hard-left protest voice, becoming more populist in character, and stating that it will not abandon the eurozone,[21] its chairman Alexis Tsipras has declared that the "euro is not my fetish".[22] Recently, the Vice President of the European Parliament and Syriza MEP Dimitrios Papadimoulis stated that Greece should "be a respectable member of the European Union and the euro zone"[23] and that "there is absolutely no case for a Grexit".[24] Although Alexis Tsipras clarified that Syriza "does not support any sort of Euroscepticism",[25] at the same time, the party is seen as a mildly Eurosceptic force.[26][27]

Syriza party chairman, Alexis Tsipras

History[edit]

Formation[edit]

Although SYRIZA was formally launched before the 2004 legislative election, the roots of the process that led to its formation can be traced back to the Space for Dialogue for the Unity and Common Action of the Left (Greek: Χώρος Διαλόγου για την Ενότητα και Κοινή Δράση της Αριστεράς) in 2001.[28] The "Space" was composed of various organisations of the Greek Left that, despite different ideological and historical backgrounds, had shared common political action in several important issues that had arisen in Greece at the end of the 1990s, such as the Kosovo War, privatizations, social and civil rights,[29] etc.

The "Space" provided the common ground from which the participating parties could work together on issues such as:

Even though the "Space" was not a political organisation, but rather an effort to bring together the parties and organisations that attended, it gave birth to some electoral alliances for the local elections of 2002,[31] the most successful being the one led by Manolis Glezos for the super-prefecture of Athens-Piraeus. The "Space" also provided the common ground from which several of the member parties and organizations launched the Greek Social Forum,[32] part of the larger European Social Forum.

2004 general election[edit]

The defining moment for the birth of Syriza came with the legislative election of 2004. Most of the participants of the "Space" sought to develop a common platform that could lead to an electoral alliance.[33] This led to the eventual formation of the Coalition of the Radical Left, in January 2004.[34]

The parties that originally formed the Coalition of the Radical Left in January 2004 were the:

Although the Communist Organization of Greece (KOE) had participated in the "Space", it decided not to take part in the Coalition.[why?][35]

In the election, the coalition gathered 241,539 votes (3.3% of the total) and elected six members to parliament. All six were members of Synaspismós, the largest of the coalition parties. This led to much tension within the coalition.

Crisis and revitalisation[edit]

Former President of Syriza, Alekos Alavanos, speaking in Athens.

After the 2004 election, the smaller parties accused Synaspismós of not honoring an agreement to have one of its members of parliament resign so that Yannis Banias of the AKOA could take his seat.[36] Tension built up and resulted in the split of the Internationalist Workers Left and the formation of Kokkino, both of which remained within the coalition. The frame of the crisis within Syriza was the reluctance of Synaspismós to adopt and maintain the political agreement for a clear denial of "centre-left politics".[citation needed]

Three months after the 2004 legislative elections, Synaspismós chose to run independently from the rest of the coalition for the 2004 European elections and some of the smaller parties of the coalition supported the feminist Women for Another Europe (Greek: Γυναίκες για μια Άλλη Ευρώπη) list.[37]

The crisis ended in December 2004 with the 4th convention of Synaspismós, when a large majority within the party voted for the continuation of the coalition.[38] This change of attitude was further intensified with the election of Alekos Alavanos, a staunch supporter of the coalition,[39] as president of Synaspismós, after its former leader, Nikos Konstantopoulos, stepped down.

The coalition was further strengthened by the successful organization in May 2006 of the 4th European Social Forum in Athens, as well as by a number of largely successful election campaigns, such as those in Athens and Piraeus, during the 2006 local elections. The coalition ticket in the municipality of Athens was headed by Alexis Tsipras, proposed by Alavanos who declared Synaspismós's "opening to the new generation".

2007 legislative election[edit]

On 16 September 2007, Syriza gained 5.0% of the vote in the 2007 Greek legislative election. Opinion polls had already indicated that the Coalition was expected to make significant gains in the election, with predictions ranging from 4% to 5% of the electorate.[40]

Prior to the election, in 22 June, the participating parties had agreed on a common declaration. The signed Declaration of the Coalition of the Radical Left outlined the common platform on which the Coalition would compete in the following election and outlined the basis for the political alliance.[41]

The Coalition of 2007 has also expanded from its original composition in 2004. On 20 June 2007, the Communist Organization of Greece (KOE) announced its participation into the Coalition.[42] On August 21 the environmentalist Ecological Intervention (Greek: Οικολογική Παρέμβαση) also joined,[43] and on 22 August 2007, the Democratic Social Movement (DIKKI) also announced its participation in the Coalition.[44]

On 2 September, the Areios Pagos refused to include the title of DIKKI in the Syriza electoral alliance, claiming that the internal procedures followed by DIKKI were flawed. This was criticised furiously by both Syriza and DIKKI as inappropriate interference by the courts in party political activity.[45]

2007–2011[edit]

Six party leaders' televised debate ahead of the 2009 Greek legislative elections. Alexis Tsipras, the leader of Syriza, is in the centre.

In 27 November 2007, Alavanos announced that, for private reasons, he would not be seeking to renew his presidency of Synaspismós.[46] The 5th party congress of Synaspismós elected Alexis Tsipras, a municipal councillor for the municipality of Athens, as party president on 10 February 2008. Alavanos retained the parliamentary leadership of Syriza, however, as Tsipras was not at that time a member of parliament. Tsipras achieved considerable popularity with the Greek electorate, which led to a significant increase in support for Syriza in opinion polls – up to 18 percent at its peak.[47]

At the end of June 2008, Xekinima announced that it would join the coalition.[48]

During the run-up to the 2009 European elections Syriza, amid turbulent internal developments, saw its poll share decrease to 4.7%, with the result that only one Syriza candidate (Nikos Hountis) was elected to the European Parliament. This caused renewed internal strife, leading to the resignation of former Synaspismós president Alekos Alavanos from his seat in the Greek parliament, a resignation that was, however, withdrawn a few days later.[49]

In the 2009 legislative election held on 4 October 2009, Syriza won 4.6% of the vote (slightly below its 2007 showing), returning 13 MPs to the Hellenic Parliaments. The incoming MPs included Tsipras, who took over as Syriza's parliamentary leader.

In June 2010, the Ananeotiki ("Renewing Wing") of radical social democrats in Synapsismós split away from the party, at the same time leaving Syriza. This reduced Syriza's parliamentary group to 9 MPs. The 4 MPs who left formed a new party, the Democratic Left (DIMAR).

2012 general elections[edit]

In a move of voters away from the parties which participated in the coalition government under the premiership of Lucas Papademos in November 2011, Syriza gained popular support in the opinion polls, as did the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) and DIMAR. Opinion polls in the run-up to the May 2012 election showed Syriza with 10-12% support.[50] The minor Unitary Movement (a PASOK splinter group) also joined the coalition in March 2012.

In first 2012 legislative election held on 6 May, the party polled over 16% and quadrupled its number of seats, becoming the second largest party in parliament, behind New Democracy (ND).[51] After the election, Tsipras was invited by the president of Greece to try to form a government, but failed to form a government owing to a lack of parliamentary numbers. Subsequently, Tsipras rejected a proposal by the president to join a coalition government with the centre-right and centre-left parties.[52]

For the second 2012 legislative election on 17 June 2012, Syriza re-registered as a single party (adding the "United Social Front" moniker) instead of as a coalition, in order to be eligible to receive the 50 "bonus" seats given to the largest polling party under the Greek electoral system.[53] However, although Syriza increased its share of the vote to just under 27%, New Democracy polled 29.8% and claimed the bonus. With 71 seats, Syriza became the main opposition party to a coalition government composed of ND, PASOK, and DIMAR.

Unitary party[edit]

In July 2013, a Syriza congress was held to discuss the organization of the party. Important outcomes included a decision in principle to dissolve the participating parties in SYRIZA in favour of a unitary party. However, implementation was deferred for three months to allow time for four of the parties which were reluctant to dissolve to consider their positions. Tsipras was confirmed as chairman with 74% of the vote. However delegates supporting the Left Platform (Greek: "Αριστερή Πλάτφορμα") led by Panayiotis Lafazanis, which wants to leave the door open to quitting the euro, secured 30% (60) of the seats on SYRIZA's central committee.[54] A modest success was also claimed by the "Communist Platform" (Greek section of the International Marxist Tendency), who managed to get two members elected to the party's central committee.[55]

2014 elections[edit]

Local elections and elections to the European Parliament were held in May 2014. In the 2014 European election on 25 May 2014, Syriza reached first place with 26.5% of vote, ahead of New Democracy at 22.7%. The position in the local elections was less clear-cut, due to the number of "non-party" local tickets and independents contending for office. Syriza's main success was the election of Rena Dourou to the Attica Regional governorship with 50.8% of the second-round vote over the incumbent Yiannis Sgouros. Its biggest disappointment was the failure of Gabriel Sakellaridis to win the Athens Mayoralty election, being beaten in the second ballot by Giorgos Kaminis with 51.4% to his 48.6%.

Thessaloniki Programme[edit]

On 13 September 2014, Syriza unveiled the Thessaloniki Programme, a set of policy proposals containing its central demands for economic and political restructuring.[56]

2015 snap election[edit]

For more details on this topic, see Greek legislative election, 2015.

After the Hellenic Parliament failed to elect a new President of State by 29 December 2014, the parliament was dissolved and a snap 2015 legislative election was scheduled for 25 January 2015. Syriza had a lead in opinion polls, but its anti-austerity position worried investors and eurozone supporters.[57] The party's chief economic advisor, John Milios, has downplayed fears that Greece under a Syriza government would exit the eurozone,[58] while shadow development minister George Stathakis disclosed the party’s intention to crack down on Greek oligarchs if it wins the election.[59] In the election, Syriza defeated the incumbent New Democracy and went on to become the largest party in the Hellenic Parliament, receiving 36.3% of the vote and 149 out of 300 seats.[60]

Tsipras was congratulated by French president Francois Hollande who stressed Greco-French "friendship," as well as by leftist leaders all over Europe, including Pablo Iglesias Turrión of Spain's Podemos and Katja Kipping of Germany's Die Linke. German government official Hans-Peter Friedrich however said: "The Greeks have the right to vote for whom they want. We have the right to no longer finance Greek debt."[61] The Financial Times and Radio Free Europe reported on Syriza's ties with Russia and extensive correspondence with Aleksandr Dugin, who called for a "genocide" of Ukrainians.[62][63] The EUobserver reported that Tsipras had a "pro-Russia track record" and that Syriza's MEPs had voted against the Ukraine–European Union Association Agreement, criticism of the Russian annexation of Crimea, and criticism of the pressure on civil rights group Memorial.[64] The Moscow Times stated, "The terms used in Russia's anti-Europe rhetoric also seem to have infiltrated Tsipras' vocabulary."[65]

Syriza's 40 Point Program for the 2015 elections,[66]

  • Audit of the public debt and renegotiation of interest due and suspension of payments until the economy has revived and growth and employment return.
  • Demand the European Union to change the role of the European Central Bank so that it finances States and programs of public investment.
  • Raise income tax to 75% for all incomes over 500,000 euros.
  • Change the election laws to a proportional system.
  • Increase taxes on big companies to that of the European average.
  • Adoption of a tax on financial transactions and a special tax on luxury goods.
  • Prohibition of speculative financial derivatives.
  • Abolition of financial privileges for the Church and shipbuilding industry.
  • Combat the banks’ secret [measures] and the flight of capital abroad.
  • Cut drastically military expenditures.
  • Raise minimum salary to the pre-cut level, 750 euros per month.
  • Use buildings of the government, banks and the Church for the homeless.
  • Open dining rooms in public schools to offer free breakfast and lunch to children.
  • Free health benefits to the unemployed, homeless and those with low salaries.
  • Subvention up to 30% of mortgage payments for poor families who cannot meet payments.
  • Increase of subsidies for the unemployed. Increase social protection for one-parent families, the aged, disabled, and families with no income.
  • Fiscal reductions for goods of primary necessity.
  • Nationalization of banks.
  • Nationalization of ex-public (service & utilities) companies in strategic sectors for the growth of the country (railroads, airports, mail, water).
  • Preference for renewable energy and defence of the environment.
  • Equal salaries for men and women.
  • Limitation of precarious hiring and support for contracts for indeterminate time.
  • Extension of the protection of labor and salaries of part-time workers.
  • Recovery of collective (labor) contracts.
  • Increase inspections of labor and requirements for companies making bids for public contracts.
  • Constitutional reforms to guarantee separation of Church and State and protection of the right to education, health care and the environment.
  • Referendums on treaties and other accords with Europe.
  • Abolition of privileges for parliamentary deputies. Removal of special juridical protection for ministers and permission for the courts to proceed against members of the government.
  • Demilitarization of the Coast Guard and anti-insurrectional special troops. Prohibition for police to wear masks or use fire arms during demonstrations. Change training courses for police so as to underline social themes such as immigration, drugs and social factors.
  • Guarantee human rights in immigrant detention centers.
  • Facilitate the reunion of immigrant families.
  • Depenalization of consumption of drugs in favor of battle against drug traffic. Increase funding for drug rehab centers.
  • Regulate the right of conscientious objection in draft laws.
  • Increase funding for public health up to the average European level.(The European average is 6% of GDP; in Greece 3%.)
  • Elimination of payments by citizens for national health services.
  • Nationalization of private hospitals. Elimination of private participation in the national health system.
  • Withdrawal of Greek troops from Afghanistan and the Balkans. No Greek soldiers beyond our own borders.
  • Abolition of military cooperation with Israel. Support for creation of a Palestinian State within the 1967 borders.
  • Negotiation of a stable accord with Turkey.
  • Closure of all foreign bases in Greece and withdrawal from NATO.

Government formation[edit]

On 26 January 2015, Tsipras and Independent Greeks (ANEL) leader Panos Kammenos agreed to form a coalition government of Syriza and ANEL, with Tsipras becoming Prime Minister of Greece[67] and Greek-Australian economist Yanis Varoufakis appointed Ministry of Finance.[68]

Cabinet members[edit]

On 27 January 2015, the members of the new Cabinet were announced by Syriza:[69]

The Ministry of Defence was filled by a non-Syriza nominee, Panos Kammenos of the Independent Greeks (ANEL).

Former constituent parties[edit]

Coalition supporters in a 2007 rally. Flags of Synaspismós, AKOA, DIKKI, and Kokkino can be seen, as well as those of the coalition itself.

Syriza as a unitary party was formed through the merger of the following parties (in alphabetical order in English):[70]

Election results[edit]

Hellenic Parliament[edit]

Hellenic Parliament
Election Seats won ± Size # of votes  % Government Leader
2004
6 / 300
±0 4th 241,539 3.3% Opposition Alekos Alavanos
2007
14 / 300
Increase8 4th 361,211 5.0% Opposition Alekos Alavanos
2009
13 / 300
Decrease1 5th 315,627 4.6% Opposition Alexis Tsipras
05/2012
52 / 300
Increase39 2nd 1,061,265 16.8% Opposition Alexis Tsipras
06/2012
71 / 300
Increase19 2nd 1,655,022 26.9% Opposition Alexis Tsipras
2015
149 / 300
Increase78 1st 2,246,064 36.3% Coalition (SYRIZA-ANEL) Alexis Tsipras

European Parliament[edit]

European Parliament
Election Seats won ± Size # of votes  % Leader
2009
1 / 22
±0 5th 240,898 4.7% Alexis Tsipras
2014
6 / 21
Increase5 1st 1,518,608 26.6% Alexis Tsipras

European parliament[edit]

Syriza holds 6 seats in the European parliament.

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External links[edit]