Monday, January 26, 2015

Hope and caution

“If Syriza doesn’t send the first person who tries to bribe them, even for a single euro, straight to the prosecutor, we’re finished,” says Kyrios Dimitris, 71, who runs an efficient food bank in working-class Nea Ionia.
I can't think of a political party coming to power facing a more difficult prospect. Syriza carries wild, extravagant hopes against huge obstacles. Disillusionment is inevitable and hard deals have to be done. Germany's economic stringency is foremost in people's minds, but there is also an internal enemy, the need to tackle not only the institutional weakness of the Greek state, but also the entrenched network of interests, embedded corruption, clientalism and the divisions that linger from the civil war. Maria Margaronis sums it up.
Yet that’s not the only thing that explains Syriza’s rise. Over the past five years, Greece has begun to change, and Syriza has changed with it. In the early months of the crisis, you were either against the troika or in the “reformist” camp, which meant you were signed up to the neoliberal agenda of Greece’s creditors. Now the party that rallied the crowds by railing against the troika has also turned its attention to what’s rotten at home. Syriza has reclaimed the idea of reform for the left, reframing it in terms of a fair, egalitarian welfare state.
 It has also promised what may be the most essential and most difficult thing: to end high-level corruption and cut the apron strings that bind Greece’s political parties with the banks and media emperors. “Even if we could, we don’t want to go back to 2009,” Tsipras said on Thursday. “We need you behind us to put an end to corruption, tax evasion, bribes and clientelist politics.”
There won't be miracles. Maybe there will be successes. But the consequences of failure could be profound.

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