Just weeks ago, Alexis Tsipras, 37, was an obscure oppositionpolitician. Now, he’s unnerving the powers that be in the EuropeanUnion because he and his leftist party Syriza a group whosemembership ranges from hardline Communists to moderate socialists have the potential of forming a government after the June 17elections. A teenage member of the Communist Youth of Greece,Tsipras has executed a dramatic and canny political metamorphosis,transforming himself fromthe leader of a radical leftist coalitionto a left-of-center standard bearer for anti-bailout andanti-austerity populism. And in so doing, he has confounded theossified poltiical class of Greece, which acceded to the stricturesimposed by the E.U. in order for Athens to receive the funds itneeds to satisfy its creditors.
Now, Tsipras may hold the future ofthe euro and the E.U. in his hands. All he needs to do is winenough seats to govern. (MORE: See the TIME magazine piece on Tsipras) Tsipras spoke to TIME’s Joanna Kakissis at the Syriza office onKoumoundourou Square in Athens. Following is the transcript of theinterview: TIME: Are you willing to make the necessary structural reforms inGreece to revive the economy? ALEXIS TSIPRAS: It is obvious that Greece and the Greek economy hasits own particularities that played a role in making this economiccrisis deeper and longer.
Indeed, we must make structural reformswhich will the public sector more reliable, create an effective andfair taxation system, and fight the black economy which has beenlike a kind of gangrene on the Greek economy. As far as I know, theunderground economy represents 30% of the GDP. At the same time, we will try to restore faith in the law andconvince people that the state is equitable and effective. We willdestroy corruption and the interconnection of political andeconomic power from its roots. DVB-T Digital Receiver
Without the contribution of thecitizens, these reforms cannot take place. But in order tocontribute, the citizens want to know that these reforms will notbe implemented only to those who have low incomes but those whohave high incomes and come from the upper class. There is a Greeksaying: “The fish always stinks from its head,” (which means,roughly, corruption starts at the top). So if we don’t fight theproblem at its roots, then we won’t be able to establish positivemorale that can encourage all Greeks to also fight against it. DVB-T2 Set Top Box Manufacturer
(MORE: Angry Greek Voters Punish Leaders over Austerity at theBallot Box) But you need a long time to make such reforms… Some things need time, but some other can change quickly. Forinstance, I can’t understand why the last two and half years we arechasing our tail when it comes to taxation. We taxed poor peopleagain and again, but no one talked about what we really needed,which is an assets register by which every Greek will be obliged toregister their properties, their bank accounts in Greece or abroad,as well as their mobile assets, such as the shares of a companythey possibly have. Only in this way, we will be able to taxeveryone according to their real capability of paying taxes and wewill create a system which will share the responsibilities in afair way. China DVB-T Set Top Box
Of course, for these policies to be effective, we shouldalso create a high-penalty system for those who break the law.Whoever makes a false statement about his assets should be punishedby having a bit part of these assets confiscated. There is nomagical way out of the crisis. However, there are for suresolutions, tough but fair, in order to share in a just way theresponsibilities, establish a positive morale and give a boost tothe Greek economy. There are some outside Greece who say Greece wants it both ways..
It’s a paradox to think Greece can stay in the euro zone if theausterity policies continue to be implemented. The austeritypolicy, and especially this extreme policy based on the term”internal devaluation”, is exactly what we should have avoided. It’s the wrong prescription, the wrong medicine for the patient,because Greece has a production base with a special characteristic:90% of the small businesses’ production, which are the foundationof the Greek economy, is not exported. It is sold on the domesticmarket. So, when you make a horizontal cut of the wages and thepensions, inevitably there is an impact on the consumption.
Hence,200,000 small Greek businesses have closed down! As a result,unemployment rates soared nowadays, one out of two youngpeople under 30 years old is unemployed and the recessionbecame deeper to the point that it’s the fifth consecutive year ofrecession and GDP lost 20 points, which has never happened beforein any European country in a time of peace! Therefore, we realize that these policies were the wrong medicinefor the crisis; they were shocking, ineffective policies, which ledGreek people to face the possibility of a humanitarian crisis. Whenthere is a patient, and you give him medicine, and it only makeshim worse, it is not logical to insist on giving him a higher doseof the same medicine. You’ve got to change the medicine. If wecontinue taking this austerity medicine, and especially at a higherdose, that’s when Greece is going to be forced out of the euro. Andwhen Greece leaves, the whole euro zone will starts wobbling.
Because if one country gets out of the euro, the next day themarkets will hunt for the next one to follow in this aggressive,devaluing speculation of the bonds, which is speculated by the bighedge funds. We think that this would not be good either for Greeceor for Europe. So, the policy that we want to implement without austerity, but inside euro zone is the onlyrealistic and we could argue the only rational policywhich will benefit everyone. PHOTOS: General Strike Leads to Anti-Austerity Protests in Greece.