Green change in Greece

The upcoming Greek national election, which will be held on 25 January, will certainly have a major impact on the European political level too, regardless of who will form the next Greek government. Most observers currently expect the present government, led by the Conservative Nea Dimokratia, to fall and to be replaced by a left-wing government, led by Syriza. 

After weak results in the European elections in May 2014, the Greek Greens did not expect to compete successfully with an independent list, assuming it would be impossible to cross the 3% threshold. While unfortunate divisions weakened the Green camp in Greece last year, the Greens felt nonetheless that they must try to help overcoming the deep economic social and political crisis in their country by actively campaigning for Green goals in these elections. This is why they looked into the possibilities of forming coalitions with other political forces.

On January 4, the EGP member party, Oikologoi Prasinoi, decided by a majority of about 75%  to accept an offer from the Syriza party for a joint candidacy. Other options considered had been joining with the DIMAR party or other small parties. A group of Greens that had left Oikologoi Prasinoi last year under the leadership of the former MEP Nikos Chrysogelos decided to throw their lot in with DIMAR while a third group under the name of Europe Écologie, joined with the POTAMI party.

In their deal with Syriza, Oikologoi Prasinoi agreed to take 23 of the 50 candidacies that Syriza offered to minor parties overall. Several of these candidacies are considered promising, so that after election day the Greek Greens could be represented in the Greek Parliament. Other provisions of the deal with Syriza foresee financing support for Green candidates as well as financial support after the election and access to advisory roles in the new Greek Parliament. The Greek Greens also insisted on some policy provisions; Syriza accepted these as well, as DIMAR would have.

Yannis Tsironis, who is leading the campaign of Oikologoi Prasinoi, visited Brussels this week to inform the EGP and the Green Group in the European Parliament about the situation in their campaign. For the EGP, both Monica Frassoni and Reinhard Bütikofer met with Yannis and expressed the conviction which was also shared with the Green Group, that Greece needs change and that we hope the Greens can promote Green change for Greece successfully.

As a rule, the EGP always defers to member parties regarding decisions about national coalitions. We do not interfere in such decisions, nor are we a part of them. The EGP does not support Syriza or any other Greek party. We do strongly expect, however, that European policy makers and national policy makers in the different EU capitals must respect the democratic decision that the Greek voters are going to render on 25 January and refrain from any blackmail againt the voters sovereign choice.

In supporting Green change for Greece, the EGP sees three main priorities: There must be an end to austerity. The debt burden of Greece must be alleviated in negotiations after the elections whoever governs. Greece should implement urgent reforms, in particular reforms that promote a Green transformation of the Greek economy.

We know that all Greens agree on these three priorities and we wish our Greek Green friends the best of success in promoting them. Several Greens from different European countries have indicated that they will be going to Greece to support individual Green candidates in their campaigns there.

We do hope that the outcome of the Greek election and the policy decision to be taken urgently after election day will contribute to the further strengthening of the solidarity that is necessary to keep the European project together, and we do hope to be participating increasingly in that with a distinct European Green voice.

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