Tuesday, January 28, 2020
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Syriza in European social democracy?

Ramón Jáuregui. Socialist MEP

In the title and I express my feelings about the interesting debate surrounding the arrival of Syriza in government in Greece, and controversial push and pull is is having with the European institutions

To explain this better, I must say that my best wishes go to this Left -which has emerged from the earlier Greek disasters, including failures and responsibilities of classical and traditional social democracy of Greece, PASOK- so that it becomes a true social democratic party, and fulfils a historic mission in Greece in the twenty-first century. That is, assuming that Syriza cannot carry out a communist programme in Greece, nor can it invent a new Left in Europe with populist proposals and simple slogans. So I want their politics to succeed and always be able to do for Greece and its citizens what historically should be done. If they do, their project will look like what social democracy is doing in Europe, which will surely end up asking to join the PES, the Party of European Socialists.

But let's take one thing at a time. The political and economic debate that has arisen in this subject should be studied in a certain order. There is first a democratic debate, almost pre-political, which affects the familiar argument that democracy is above markets, and technical institutions (IMF, Central Bank, etc.) must not overlap to vote citizenship. Such a statement is unquestionable and hopefully more visible, because unfortunately over the crisis has not always been so. Nevertheless, applied to the Greeks' vote in the last elections (January 2015), does this mean that their wishes or support for the winning proposals must be respected in all cases and places? It depends. What the Greeks voted for should always be respected, provided that corresponds to their jurisdiction and provided they have the financial resources to carry it out.

Like it or not, in Europe, our electoral proposals must conform to what we are really able to decide. We cannot decide everything, because we have shared and limited sovereignty. The debate between the Greek people's democracy and foreign powers that violate the will of the voters is false and demagogic. The Greeks cannot decide on many things their government must do "alongside 18 other European governments that govern a common currency". If we add that they have some concrete commitments to those governments that have given them a huge amount of money, their decision-making capacity is even lower.

European democracy manifests itself in concentric circles of sovereignty

Because of this, Syriza has had to take urgent rectification and almost all their promises and their initial announcements of government. They cannot raise the minimum wage, they cannot stop privatisation, they will have to adjust their budgetary impact social action.... and so on.

Democracy in Europe manifests itself in concentric circles of jurisdictional sovereignty. In addition, in the same way that the city of Córdoba cannot decide on Spanish criminal law or the Polish Government cannot unilaterally decide in favour of arming pro-Russian Ukraine against the rebels, the Greeks cannot decide their fiscal deficit. That's what federalism is. So Europe must get used to that.

The second debate is about Greece's economic margin to go about a totally alternative economic policy to those of the Euro countries -let us not forget our common currency- have determined for the Euro area. Well then, neither. The limitations of this alternative policy are obvious. First, because a country from the EMU cannot go it alone and secondly because Greece is heavily indebted and subject to the requirements not only of his creditors, but especially those countries that have rescued them twice and would have to continue rescuing in the coming months and years.

Does this mean that the new Greek government has to put aside its promises and make (happen) each and every one of the things that the Eurozone requires? It has not, and in fact, there have been major negotiations and there will be many more, in which Greece and the EU will have to agree on the changes and on the joint and respective actions for Greece to climb out of the hole, and for Europe to regain growth and employment.

Basically, the first rounds of negotiations have been this. Greece has had to comply with EU requirements to submit to the conditions of European credit (and has not negotiated new ones), has had to develop a very strict internal reform plan, but still receives assistance from a Union which is broadening their semantics (now there will be no Troika) and is slowly changing the basic parameters of economic policy (the Junker Plan, flexibility in the setting of fiscal consolidation and liquidity of the Central Bank).

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