Greek voters keep alternatives open in Europe

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The results of the elections in Greece maintain open the space for an alternative in Europe.

Undeniably, the scope of the new government remains severely constrained by the application of the memorandum. There are however two important ruptures that now remain possible.

The voters in Greece have reaffirmed a commitment to a radical transformation of the European space and to an end to self-defeating policies of austerity. The government of Greece cannot achieve any of these results on its own. The ball is in the court of the rest of Europe, with the task of both changing the balance of forces at national level, including in the elections ahead in Portugal, Spain and Ireland, and of changing European common sense by developing effective transnational mobilisations. It is clear to many that in the medium term the current memorandum is economically and politically unworkable under current terms: a radical Greek government and a renewed balance of forces in Europe represent the best chance for its renegotiation and for the renegotiation on a transnational level of European democracy and economic policy.

Secondly, whereas the fiscal leverage might be constrained by the memorandum, Syriza retains the possibility of promoting progressive social policies, clearly demanded by the population. These include shifting the burden of austerity from the lower to the upper classes, and notably the oligarchy; allowing for a greater self-organisation of society through initiatives of mutualism and solidarity; or again fighting xenophobia by tangible policies as the recently passed law granting Greek citizenship to children of migrants born in Greece.

The idea of a regressive return to national autarchy has been defeated by these elections, which have reiterated again, with startling tenacity given the circumstances, the commitment of the majority of people in Greece to a certain ideal of a democratic Europe of solidarity. The increased abstention and frustration with Syriza also manifested at these elections are warning signs that this commitment is not unshakable, which should remind European institutions and other European governments of their own responsibilities.

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