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In Historic Vote, Greece Elects Pro-Worker Party

(This article first appeared in the May-June 2015 issue of The American Postal Worker magazine.)

Greece made history in January when it elected the pro-worker Syriza Party – the culmination of years of protests against dire economic conditions following the global financial crisis that began in 2008.

Syriza was formed in 2004, but became popular during the international economic downturn four years later, which was felt intensely in Greece.

In the 2000s, Greece ran a large deficit. When the recession hit, Greece’s main industries, shipping and tourism, were deeply affected, and debt mounted quickly.

On Dec. 6, 2008, 15-year-old student Alexandros Grigoropoulos was shot and killed by two police officers in central Athens. For the next three weeks, Greece was filled with young protesters occupying schools and the streets, and targeting banks and government property – taking a stand against crippling taxes and a plummeting stock market.

In 2010, when the country was on the verge of default on its debt, the Greek government agreed unprecedented austerity measures in exchange for an emergency bailout from members of the European Union (EU) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

They included deep pay cuts, pension reductions and new taxes, which further choked the Greek economy.

In response, a nationwide strike was held on May 5, 2010. Countless rallies, strikes and demonstrations erupted across Greece over the next five years, protesting the dire economic conditions.

In early 2014, Greece’s unemployment rate reached 27.7 percent – and for Greeks under the age of 25, the rate reached an unimaginable 61.4 percent.

But voters took their rallying cries to the ballot box in early 2015 – and were finally heard.

Syriza’s leader, 40-year-old Alex Tsipras, promised to lead an anti-austerity revolution and is willing to re-negotiate a fair and mutually beneficial solution to Greece’s stifling debt.

Syriza’s platform also includes returning privatized services to the people, including railroads, airports, water – and the postal system – as well as de-privatizing banks.