The European Left Party at its congress in Madrid has chosen the Greek Leader of Syriza, Alexis Tsipras, as its official candidate for the Presidency of the European Commission, due to be chosen next year.
The leader of Greece’s Coalition of the Radical Left received 84 percent of the vote. However the European Left holds just 35 seats, or 4.5 percent of the vote, in the European Parliament, so his nomination is seen as largely symbolic. The party has said it intends to campaign on an “anti-austerity” platform in next year’s elections.
Of the other groups, only the Socialists have announced their candidate: the European Parliament’s current president, Martin Schulz.
Euronews correspondent Efi Koutsokosta spoke to Alexis Tsipras in the Spanish capital.
Efi Koutsokosta, euronews: “Let’s start with your candidacy for the Presidency of the European Commission during the next European elections. Why did you decide to say yes?”
Alexis Tsipras, SYRIZA leader: “It was a big challenge for me personally and for SYRIZA. The truth is that political events in Europe are affected by what happens in Greece and events in Greece are affected by what happens in Europe. So, a left wing government in Greece will be a very powerful message for the people of Europe, it’ll be like a stone which will strike Europe’s calm waters, bringing a chance for big change.”
euronews: “You still speak about the failure of the bailout deals. But your opponents say the bailout deals are coming to an end in Ireland and Portugal.”
Alexis Tsipras: “Let me take a different approach to that issue. Spain didn’t have a bailout deal. However, they implement the same mixture of policies as those set out in memorandums for Greece and Portugal. Of course for some particular reasons – to do with dignity perhaps – that Spanish politicians could use as an excuse, Spain didn’t end up in the same shameful position as Greece, where the Prime Minister cannot decide anything by himself, neither can the governmental majority, without asking some lowly troika officials who often suggest schizophrenic policies.”
euronews: “In the spring, you are going to organize a conference concerning the debt problem. Even if you think that a partial debt haircut could be attractive for some people in the South, how will you convince those in the North, for example the Germans who have again put Merkel into a dominant position in Europe?”
Alexis Tsipras: “In standing for office I have enormous respect for European taxpayers. I would argue that the European Left’s proposals have the advantage of being sustainable and good for them too. Because by following the policy that Mrs Merkel advocates, Southern Europe will perpetually need new loans. Because austerity leads to a vicious circle of recession and new rounds of lending.”