Yesterday the Greek left made history. The Coalition of the Radical Left, known by its acronym Syriza, won the parliamentary elections with 36% of the vote, bringing them two seats shy of a parliamentary majority. The Greek people voted to reject the disastrous austerity measures forced on them by the Troika, (the European Commission, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund), a failed set of policies responsible for half a decade of economic contraction and human misery. Syriza proposes an alternative path grounded in economic justice and participatory democracy.
We applaud our Greek comrades for their momentous victory. Success at the ballot box in Greece is just the first step towards a historic transformation in social relations and power distribution throughout Europe. Syriza’s model, one of a radical politics grounded in the social and trade unionist movements, has inspired imitators across the continent. Most notable is the rise of Podemos in Spain, a party descended from the indignados movement which took to the streets in 2011 to protest capitalism and the Spanish political system. Today, Podemos leads the polls for the next Spanish general election, which is scheduled to be held some time this year.
Syriza would prefer to solve the economic crisis by renegotiating the terms of the bailout agreement with the Troika, thereby removing the austerity straightjacket and allowing the Greek economy to recover. Unfortunately, the German leadership appears unable to stomach the inflationary monetary policies necessary to jumpstart growth in the European south. Radical change will require the entire European left working in concert to overcome entrenched capitalist interests and transform the neoliberal character of European integration into a humane, sustainable, socialist endeavor.
We, the Young Democratic Socialists of America, extend our support and solidarity to Syriza, and to the wider European Left project the Greek example hints at. We encourage our American comrades to study Syriza, Podemos, and the other rising European parties of the left, and the social movements from which they emerge. Their experience suggests a model which may be applicable to the United States. We must build our own coalition of the radical left, composed of movements as well as parties, if we are to ever win a victory as potent as Syriza’s.