Syriza’s electoral victory in the Greek elections has sparked varied reactions at the University of Edinburgh.
Syriza, a far-left anti-austerity party, made waves after winning 36 per cent of the vote on 25th January and forming a coalition government under its radical and charismatic leader, Alexis Tsipras. While moderate and conservative authorities in the EU look on with worry, many others have reacted with joy and hope.
The Student contacted the Hellenic Society, who pointed out that it would be “very difficult” to summarise the views of the whole society, as opinions were so varied.
One society member, however, said: “I am very optimistic about the future of Greece with Syriza being the government.”
He insisted that “sooner or later the rest of the countries following the austerity programs will turn to one similar to Greece with blessings from their voters.
“I would like to say that Syriza is not a ‘far-left’ or ‘radical left’ party. It doesn’t have any strong Marxist views like organising a communistic economy.”
The Student also heard from another member of the Society who explained that she came to Edinburgh from Greece hoping to return with enough qualifications to find a job and support her family. “However, within the year, the crisis, austerity and the huge youth unemployment in Greece had got even worse.” She ended up staying to complete a PhD.
She went on to say that “absolute pessimism for the future” and “fear that we are never going to have a normal life again” were the worst consequences of the crisis for her.
This student expressed optimism for Syriza policies on minimum wage, citizen rights and job creation. “But what it has already given to most people is, I believe, the hope that we will gain back our dignity and our future.”
She acknowledged that, to succeed, Syriza “will need solidarity and support from the people in the European Union who disagree with the choices of most European leaders to bleed Greece’s economy and let its people suffer. But most of all, it will need Greek people to fight for their rights and their future and become active citizens again, taking control of their own lives.”
The university’s Scottish Socialist Party Society was one of the most outspoken political societies to react to the Syriza win, saying in a statement to The Student that the result “demonstrates the deep sense in which the people of Greece are seeking change, seeking an end to austerity, seeking to end the pain and humiliation of their society that so many feel to be taking place.”
The SSP Society organised a well-attended event with its leader Colin Fox, who was in Greece during the election time, as speaker. Students questioned Fox on the Greek economy and how Syriza would be able to implement its policies.
The EU Society, meanwhile, confirmed from the start that “as a society, we don’t take any political sides.”
They then stated: “We hope that Greece will stay a member of the EU and the Eurozone. Though, we also acknowledge that because of austerity, many people in Greece have been suffering. Therefore, we wish the newly elected Government the best of luck in tackling the many problems the country is currently facing and in regaining economic strength.”