By Hilhne Colliopoulou ,AFP
ATHENS — Europe needs a “New Deal” to rise above the economic crisis and austerity policies, the European Left Party’s Greek candidate for EU commission chairman, Alexis Tsipras, says in an interview. “There is no way we will exit this crisis if we do not proceed to a European New Deal,” the 40-year-old radical leftist party leader told AFP, referring to the 1930’s stimulus programs enacted to help the United States overcome the Great Depression. Europe needs “a new agreement on investment funding to benefit employment and social security,” he said. Tsipras is a leading opponent of European austerity politics and particularly of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, seen by many in Greece as a leading proponent of the cost-cutting drive. And based on the latest polls, even if Tsipras fails to replace EU Commission chairman Jose Manuel Barroso, he could well become Greece’s next prime minister. Greece’s multi-billion-euro EU-IMF bailout in 2010 saved the country from bankruptcy, but the austerity measures dictated by the creditors plunged the country into a deep recession. Unemployment has climbed to over 27 percent, nearly tripling since the crisis began and the highest in four decades. “Greece is an example to avoid, this should not happen in other countries,” Tsipras said. “The response to this Europe of intolerance, of social dissolution, is the abolition of austerity policies,” he said. The leftist leader says he wants to ‘demolish’ the EU-IMF bailout deal that has brought misery to thousands of Greek families. “We want to demolish the bailout deal that dramatically changed the life of Greeks. We will carry out reforms against corruption and waste without slashing public finances that are necessary,” he vows. “The solution is not monetary competition but solidarity between European states,” he says. Tsipras took over the radical left party Syriza in 2008, two years before the economic crisis made landfall in Greece. At the time, Syriza polled at around four percent.
But in the wake of sweeping anger in Greece over the collapse of public finances, the party shot to 26 percent in the last national elections in 2012, coming close to victory.