By Ingrid Haack
Athens, Jul 7 (efe-epa).- Five years ago, Alexis Tsipras was the great hope for Greek left-wing politics in its fight against the austerity measures imposed by the Troika of the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund, but last year he lost parliamentary elections just as Greece was preparing to leave the bailout’s constraints behind.
In a written interview with Efe, he reveals how the electoral defeat played out and discusses his achievements, failures and his party’s current ambitions to develop a progressive left alliance.
The former prime minister thinks the Covid crisis has taught Europe that it must act like a family would: debating as often as is necessary, but standing together when push comes to shove.
Q: How did it feel to lose the election in July 2019, just when the country was freeing itself from the restrictions of austerity?
A: It felt like a missed opportunity, not for me or our party, but for the country itself. As you pointed out, we overcame hardships that no other government in the past had to deal with. And we reached a point, after eight years of bailout programs, where Greeks had finally the ability to create their own destiny.
For all these years, the conservative party stood against us with a hostile and volatile rhetoric in order to diminish what our government was achieving through the years. And when election day came, they were able to capitalize on what they’ve built through these years.
But let me elaborate on my “missed opportunity” standpoint. We took a country that was effectively bankrupt, sinking into recession and austerity for five straight years, with an unemployment rate at 27 percent and a people that were completely devastated.
After four years, Greece has returned to growth, unemployment was reduced to 18 percent and we managed to secure 37 billion (euros) that was put aside as a cash safety cushion, in case of any internal or external turbulence.