The first task of SYRIZA as a government will be to cancel the Memorandum of financial assistance as well as the law for its implementation. The second one will be to restore the minimum wage to 751 euro and make unemployment benefits 423 euro again, giving aids to the unemployed for a period twice as long. Thirdly, SYRIZA will end the era of Golden Boys in banks and will impose a moratorium on debt payments until better times come for the country. These were the words of the radical left leader Alexis Tsipras and they provoked a tsunami of applause and enthusiastic cries at the first official presentation of the radical left programme for governing Greece.
"The time of the Left has come," the enthusiastic supporters of SYRIZA were shouting when the leader of the party entered Athinais Hall, despite his 40-minute delay. In an hour-long address to his fans and potential voters, he promised that Greece would return to bliss and prosperity only if SYRIZA becomes the first political party and forms a government. After the country cancels the Memorandum and stops the payments on the external debt, a national recovery programme will be drawn up. SYRIZA provides for 4% increase in tax revenues in a period of four years under the slogan, "We must stop taxing poverty and begin imposing taxes on wealth in this country." Tsipras is planning to reconsider the relationship between the state and the shipping industry and to eliminate the 57 tax breaks it is enjoying at present.
He promised to write-off the duties of loan-mired households and small companies but only if the corrupt banking system today came under state control. These words raised yet another storm of applause and he himself stretched his lips in a satisfied smile. The left government under the wing of SYRIZA will rely on the experienced staff in the state administration to support the recovery plan. All privatization processes of public enterprises will be frozen and a programme will be launched to buy back key enterprises from private ownership (such as the national communications company OTE and Olympic Airlines). Tsipras promised to form a small but flexible ministerial council involving the most experienced members of the party to lead Greece to brighter future. We are politically and ideologically self-confident that we can change the destiny of this nation, Tsipras said.
"You cannot prevent a patient from dying by changing the dose of a poisonous drug. You must change the drug itself. As you see, there is no good Memorandum, nor is it realistic to talk about a gradual withdrawal from it."
New Democracy and PASOK are going away, leaving Greece on the brink of social crisis, the leader of SYRIZA said. There is no greater symbolism of this tragedy than the fact that there is a suicide almost every day in the country, Tsipras said and insisted that the existing policy has contributed to the continuous increase in the number of unemployed, poor and weak. "It is no coincidence that emerging from the recession under the Memorandum has been postponed from one year to another," the left leader said. He called the bailout agreement a "mechanism for ultimate disaster" and said that it guarantees the exit of Greece from the euro zone. Tsipras repeated once again that there is no legal procedure in Europe to force Greece to exit the euro zone. This disproves PASOK's and New Democracy's idea of the country returning to the drachma, if it does not meet its obligations under the pact for financial assistance.
So, the only choice of Greek citizens is to vote for SYRIZA on 17 June, Alexis Tsipras cut short. "The dawn of hope for a better life is coming. SYRIZA is coming – the political force that does not hide its weaknesses. By 6 May, we represented 4.6% of the Greek people. Suddenly, we have become the main opposition force and now, we are fighting for power. We are coming!," threatened the young politician who many analysts compare to Andreas Papandreou in the 1980s.
He presented the plan for the governing of Greece as the already elected prime minister, not as the leader of a party in an election campaign. From the rostrum, Tsipras demonstrated the confidence of a sure winner and his words were all the average Greek wanted to hear to feel a momentary calmness in the current uncertainty. The two most repeated words in his speech were "promise" and "guarantee". They were used for both economic recovery and preservation of national pride over foreign interests. Venizelos and Samaras were considered the servants of these interests detrimental to Greece. Upon starting his speech, Tsipras paid special tribute to the ambassadors of Cuba and Venezuela and the consul of France in Athens, who had come to hear his electoral programme.
Recent polls by Public Issue have indicated SYRIZA as the winner of June's parliamentary elections with 31%, giving the left a strong 6% advantage over New Democracy. Before Alexis Tsipras’ speech, enthusiasm was felt everywhere in the hall filled with people. There were hugs and friendly pats on the back. During his speech, he was loudly applauded when he spoke with enthusiasm about bank nationalization, debt relief of citizens and cancellation of the Memorandum. His statements for improving the relations between Turkey and Greece and the proposal that the two countries should abandon their contracts for the renovation of military weapons were successful too. But the promises that the end of the crisis, of the reduction of salaries and social injustices is coming prompted the strongest applause.