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Greece’s Leftist Syriza Takes Europe By Storm

GUEST: Nantina Vgontzas is a Greek-American PhD student in sociology at New York University, focusing on political economy and social movements.

It has barely been one week since Greece’s parliamentary elections took Europe’s political establishment by storm, with the stunning victory of the left anti-austerity party, Syriza. In just the last few days alone, the new Greek Prime Minister, 40-year old Alexis Tspiras, has thrown a major wrench into both economic and political works.

In a nutshell, he has immediately put on hold planned privatizations of major Greek industries and infrastructure, causing financial markets to swing wildly. And, he has met with Russian and Chinese representatives, and blocked European moves to sanction Russia over Ukraine. He has also planned to reinstate workers, and restore pension plans and much more.

In the coming days the Syriza government will attempt to renegotiate Greece’s debt repayment plan, which was met by France with cautious optimism, but by Germany with outright hostility. Prime Minister Tspiras wants creditors to write off most of Greece’s debt but has also promised the country would not default.

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GUEST: Nantina Vgontzas is also active in the labor movement and currently a member of the UAW Graduate Student Organizing Committee. She lived and worked in Athens for a year following the 2012 elections and will return to Greece shortly. She is also a member of the New York City based Greek solidarity group AKNY.