Sunday 18 October, 16.00 until 17.15, Garden Room, Barbican International Battles
When Syriza came to power in Greece at the start of the year, it was hailed as a significant moment for both the future of the nation and of the Eurozone itself. Its victory represented a collapse of the previously dominant parties, Pasok and New Democracy. But it was also a mandate for Syriza to end the brutal austerity measures imposed because of Greece’s crippling debts of €323 billion (over 175 per cent of the country’s GDP) and to renegotiate imminent repayments on €240bn, owed to the ‘Troika’ (the European Central Bank, European Commission and International Monetary Fund) under the terms of Greece’s bailout. The Greek prime minister, Alexis Tspiras, sought to avert the ‘humanitarian catastrophe’ that threatened to engulf a nation where unemployment is at 28 per cent and many workers are unsure of when they will get paid, while child poverty rates are over 40 per cent. Since the crisis began, over 180,000 highly educated Greeks have left, and there has been a sharp increase in the rates of criminality, drug addiction and suicide.
In the summer, the Greek government called a referendum on the most recently proposed austerity deal, and over 61 per cent of the Greek people voted ‘OXI’ (‘No’) to further austerity measures, showing clearly the view of the nation. Yet within a week of this vote, Tsipras accepted a new austerity deal, since approved by the Greek parliament, which is even more severe than the one rejected by the electorate.
In the light of these events, what is the future for Greece? Is Grexit still on the cards, or can Greece now begin the long and arduous process of economic recovery within the eurozone? Have the austerity measures imposed by the Troika hindered its recovery or brought a brutal dose of reform to a troubled economy? What effect will Tsipras’s volte-face after the referendum have for Syriza itself and Greek democracy more generally? Could the Greek crisis still threaten the stability of Europe, the Euro and the EU? And have the Greek people, who have continually reaffirmed a broad commitment to EU membership throughout the crisis, finally turn against Europe?
writer and broadcaster, The Nation magazine
board member, Centre for Economics and Business Research; economic advisor, British Chamber of Commerce
Dr Nikos Sotirakopoulos
lecturer in sociology, University of Loughborough; author, The Rise of Lifestyle Activism: From New Left to Occupy
freelance journalist and producer based in Athens
director, membership and events, Academy of Ideas; convenor, IoI Book Club; IoI’s resident expert in all sporting matters
Like a tragic hero, Alexis Tsipras acted out the country’s impasse—and the impasse of the left—dramatically, in real time, with real people’s lives.Maria Margaronis, Nation, 21 September 2015
The real victor in the Greek elections was the Troika’s bureaucratic fatalism.Tim Black, spiked, September 2015
The price of averting Greece’s exit from the euro, and even the European Union, is further painful austerity – surely a recipe for social turmoilVicky Pryce, Guardian, 23 July 2015
Rubber-stamping the end of the European social model.Menelaos Tzafalias, Al Jazeera, 5 July 2015
Begging its creditors for more money won’t liberate Greece.Nikos Sotirakopoulos, spiked, 26 February 2015
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