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Europe's Left rejoices in Greek 'No' vote

Left-wing politicians hail bailout rejection as victory against austerity

Europe's Left rejoices in Greek 'No' vote

By Tutku Senen


Leftist politicians from across Europe on Monday hailed Greece’s “courageous” vote to reject the austerity measures proposed by the country’s creditors.

Reaction to Sunday’s “No” vote from opposition groups around the continent was at odds with the warnings issued by government leaders about Greece’s future in the eurozone.

The referendum had asked Greek citizens to vote on proposals from Greece’s creditors to raise taxes and cut spending.

More than 61 percent of the voters backed the Syriza coalition’s call to rejected the plan proposed by the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund.

Gianni Pittella, the Italian president of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats group in the European Parliament, called for fresh negotiations with Greece in a spirit of "solidarity and cooperation".

He said the socialists would "expect the Greek government to come back to the negotiations with a renewed responsible attitude" and called on Eurozone members to stop “unacceptable rigidity, national selfishness and domestic political games".

Dimitris Papadimoulis, a Syriza MEP, said the "Greek people are proving they want to remain in Europe" as equal members, "not as a debt colony".

In Belgium, Nicole Cahen of the Walloon Communist Party, described the vote as the "first victory in our war on austerity" in a Facebook post.

In a separate joint statement with the party's Jean Pierre Michiels, she said the Greek people had voted against the "dictatorship of finance" and for the dignity of people around Europe.

The secretary general of Spain's leftist Podemos party, Pablo Iglesias, hailed the referendum result as a victory for democracy.

"Today in Greece democracy won," Iglesias, a close ally of Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, posted on Twitter.

France’s Left Party leader Jean-Luc Melenchon praised Greece’s resistance. "A new period is beginning for Europe," the former minister said.

Pierre Laurent, leader of the French Communist Party, tweeted: "It's clear. Greece is the hope and youth of Europe. Bravo Greeks, bravo."

Argentine President Cristina Kirchner, whose country began debt restructuring in 2005, welcomed the vote as an "outright victory for democracy and dignity." In a series of posts on Twitter, she added: "The Greek people have said no to the impossible and humiliating conditions imposed upon them for the restructuring of their foreign debt."

In Ireland, Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams commended the Greek people for their "historic decision" and praised the "courageous leadership" of Tsipras' government.

“The big question facing all citizens of the European Union today, including Irish citizens, is whether people have the right to assert democratic control over decisions which affect their lives," he said.

He called for Greece to remain in the eurozone as part of a solution "that doesn’t impose years of economic depression on the Greek people."

At the other end of the political spectrum, Marine Le Pen, leader of the far-right National Front, welcomed the result as a blow to the "oligarchy of the European Union".

"This 'No' from the Greek people must pave the way for a healthy new approach," she said in a statement.

Meanwhile, world-renowned economist Thomas Piketty called for a major conference on debt and criticized Germany for its attitude to the Greek crisis.

In an interview with Die Zeit newspaper, Piketty said: "When I hear the Germans say that they maintain a very moral stance about debt and strongly believe that debts must be repaid, then I think: What a huge joke! Germany is the country that has never repaid its debts. It has no standing to lecture other nations."

He also condemned Germany for profiting from Greece through loans made at “comparatively high interest rates".

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