I Just Saw The Most Feared Man In All Of Europe


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It’s no exaggeration to say that Alexis Tsipras, the head of the left-wing SYRIZA party in Greece, is the most feared man right now in all of Europe.If he becomes the Prime Minister after this Sunday’s Greek election, he promises to tear up the current bailout agreement (known as the Memorandum of Understanding) and hire boatloads more public sector wages at generous salaries.

While some wonder how he can do this, his gambit is that the rest of Europe will have to blink, knowing that a Greek exit from the Eurozone would be too catastrophic.

He insists he wants to remain in Europe, this putting the entire onus on fellow Eurozone leaders to push Greece out, creating an economic catastrophe beyond what there is now, risk a bank run, and create a template by which other weak countries (think: Portugal) could then exit, possibly unravelling the whole thing.

Polls have Tsipras neck and neck with his main rival, Antonio Samaras fo the conservative New Democracy party.

Tonight Tsipras spoke in front of a gigantic crowd (at least 10,000 people in this reporter’s estimation) at Omonia Square. In attendance were lots of young people (though many old) eager to hear a message of change from the status quo.

It was an electric night, and it’s easy to see why the 37-year-old Tsipras has taken SYRIZA—a former umbrella coalition of various communist groups—into contention to be Greece’s largest parties.

As I walked to the square, SYRIZA posters were everywhere.

Also, of course, posters for the other communist parties lined the streets.

At the square, the information table looked like what you'd see at an activist rally anywhere.

It even included nationally-known imagery, like a woman in the image of Che Guevara promoting socialist feminism.

And there were hardcore communists with their hammer and sickle there.

Introducing Tsipras was a former Olympic athlete.

Then came the man himself and he was on fire. He railed against the current establishment parties.

Vira was wearing an anti-Nazi sticker. She said people voted for the Nazis because the current government did a bad job of dealing with criminality among some illegal immigrants.

The crowd was massive, extending out of the square for blocks.

An economics student named Thanassis said there was no chance Greece would leave the Eurozone because there was no ejection mechanism. He supported Tsipras for change and felt the Euro was necessary for Greece to one day have economic strength.

On the way back to the hotel I saw a pavilion for Venizelos' PASOK. The former dominant party just feels like an afterthought now.

For more of my Greece experience...

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