Thousands of people gathered in Madrid on Saturday in an anti-governmental rally organized by the Spanish anti-austerity left-wing party Podemos, following the recent victory of the eurosceptic Syriza party in Greece’s parliamentary elections.
“Thousands of people have already filled up Cibeles [a square in Madrid], have come to tell the government of Rajoy [Mariano Rajoy, Prime Minister of Spain] that they will not continue tolerating the plundering to which we are subjected to, that we will chuck them out,” Podemos wrote on its Facebook page.
More than 260 buses with more than 10,000 people from all over the country came to Madrid ahead of the rally, local media reported. Around 100 people have volunteered to carpool.
According to the party’s leader, Pablo Iglesias, the march’s aim is not to protest or ask the government for anything, but to mark the beginning of change.
Following the victory of radical left-wing Syriza party, Iglesias told Rajoy to “begin the backwards countdown,” according to media reports. “Today Greece said that yes it is possible. It is the same as we shall say in Madrid on the 31: we can build a fairer country,” Podemos said. The eurosceptic Syriza party won in Greek parliamentary elections on January 25. The anti-austerity party received 36.34 percent of votes. The Syriza party aims to renegotiate the austerity measures imposed by the European Union and International Monetary Fund (IMF) creditors, worth about $268 billion.
Greece set itself on a collision course with the rest of Europe on Sunday night after handing a stunning general election victory to a far-Left party that has pledged to reject austerity and cancel the country’s billions of pounds in debt.
In a resounding rebuff to the country’s loss of financial sovereignty, Greeks gave Syriza 36.5 per cent of the vote, according to the first official projections.
It means they will be able to send between 149 and 151 MPs to the 300-seat parliament, putting them tantalisingly close to an outright majority.
The final result was too close to call – if they win 150 seats or fewer, they will have to form a coalition with one of several minor parties.
One possibility would be to ally with Independent Greeks, a Right-wing party which is also stridently opposed to the international bail-out.
Led by the charismatic former communist Alexis Tsipras, 40, Syriza is now likely to become the first anti-austerity party in Europe to form a government.
Antonis Samaras, the outgoing prime minister, gave a brief statement in which he accepted the result and claimed he had put Greece back on the road to recovery.
“The Greek people have spoken and we all respect that decision,” he said.
“I took charge of the country when it was on the edge of a cliff. I was asked to take burning coals into my hands and I did it. We avoided the worst, we re-established the credibility and prestige of our country.”
Credit rating agency Standard and Poor’s warned on Friday that European countries could face downgrades if their various euroskeptic parties that are currently gaining momentum win power.
Coming days before Greece holds cliffhanger elections where Europe’s austerity demands are the key issue, and before one in May in the UK where a referendum on leaving the EU is central to the debate, S&P said the drift in sentiment was a worry.
It said the parties that were potentially the most “credit negative” were Greece’s Syriza – which is leading the polls ahead of this weekend’s vote – and Spain’s Podemos, which also advocates raising public spending and restructuring debt.
“Euroskeptics are advocating a major macroeconomic policy shift,” S&P said.
“A decision by any government to default on debts or devalue the currency would, without question, represent a new policy direction.”
Greece could exit the euro by accident, Finance Minister Gikas Hardouvelis said Wednesday in a new warning of what could happen if anti-austerity leftist party Syriza wins the election later this month.
“An accident could happen (in a stand-off with Europe), and the whole idea is to avoid it,” Hardouvelis, an economist and technocrat — who has drawn Syriza’s ire by wading into the political debate — told Bloomberg TV.
Syriza, who are broadly expected to win snap elections on January 25, want to renegotiate Greece’s EU-IMF bailout deal and write off a large portion of the country’s enormous debt.
Syriza’s 40-year-old leader Alexis Tsipras argues that Greece’s European partners, and Germany in particular, have realised that austerity has failed and will not refuse a renegotiation.>> Read More
On Monday, but steps taken after the financial crisis should stop the rest of the currency zone imploding, analysts say.
The bigger issue is of political contagion across the EU, with anti-austerity parties across the continent likely to be boosted if Greece’s radical left Syriza party wins the January 25 polls, they said.
Brussels and Berlin reacted with alarm after lawmakers failed for a third time to choose a new president and triggered snap elections, with both urging Greek voters to back reforms demanded by international creditors.
“This is the worst case scenario”, Jan Techau, director of the Carnegie Europe think-tank based in Brussels, told AFP.
“The uncertainty is a stark reminder the crisis is not over.”>> Read More
India’s rebound in growth provides a rare sign of vitality among the world’s largest economies. But, even with inflation falling and industrial activity gradually recovering, Prime Minister Narendra Modi faces a further awkward challenge as he tries to bolster his country’s prospects: balancing the government’s books.
Optimism over India was underlined last week when the OECD said it would be the only major global economy to enjoy “a pick-up in growth momentum” this year. Yet while Mr Modi’s long-anticipated programme of economic reforms has pushed financial markets to record highs over recent weeks, his government’s attempts to curb spending have often seemed less sure-footed.
A drive to offload stakes in state-owned businesses is crucial to achieving India’s main goal of cutting the fiscal deficit to 4.1 per cent of gross domestic product by March 2015. That effort kicks off in earnest this week, with investor roadshows in Singapore and other global financial centres aiming to sell 5 per cent of state-backed energy explorer Oil and Natural Gas Corporation. If all goes to plan, the sale should bring in about $3bn in early December.
Falls in global oil prices allowed Mr Modi to raise excise duties on petrol and diesel last week, bringing in more taxes without alienating consumers by higher fuel prices. Lower oil costs will also help to lower bloated fuel subsidy bills, taking India a step further towards its fiscal ambitions.>> Read More
Greek media report that Loukanikos (Greek for sausage) passed away peacefully, having retired from protests in 2012.
Loukanikos began hitting the headlines in 2010, when the stray hound began appearing in the front line of anti-austerity protests.
Athens journalist Damian Mac Con Uladh reports that Loukanikos suffered from his years on the front line.
According to Avgi journalist Petros Katsakos, the dog’s health was adversely affected by tear gas and from being kicked from police, forcing him to “retire” from active protest about two years ago.
“He was on the couch sleeping, when suddenly his heart stopped beating,” Loukanikos’ carer told Avgi.
At the height of his fame, Loukanikos even feature in Time Magazine’s review of 2011 (full details).
Loukanikos ‘retired’ in autumn 2012, around the time that the eurozone crisis was easing. He swapped tear gas and riot shields for a gentler life with an Athens family, who offered“all the care, love, food and vaccinations” a dog could could need.
If Europe’s policy elites could not quite believe it before, they must now know beyond much doubt that they have lost Britain. This island is no longer part of the European project in any meaningful sense.
British defenders of the status quo were knouted on Sunday. UKIP won 27.5pc of the vote, or 29pc after adjusting for the negligence – or worse – of the Electoral Commission in allowing a spoiler party with much the same name to sow confusion. Margaret Thatcher’s Tory children are scarcely more friendly to the EU enterprise.
Britain’s decision to stay out of monetary union at Maastricht sowed the seeds of separation, as pro-Europeans fully understood at the time, though almost nobody expected EMU officialdom to clinch the argument so emphatically by running the currency bloc into the ground with 1930s Gold Standard policies and youth unemployment levels above 50pc in Spain and Greece, and above 40pc in Italy.>> Read More