Greece – the only country in the world paying creditors with blood

In a new four part film series economist and journalist Paul Mason goes behind the scenes of the Greek crisis to report on the rise of Syriza, the risks they took and the repercussions the party faced when they attempted to stand up to the global finance system.

Guest post by Caroline Christie, Content Editor at 89up

In a new four part film series economist and journalist Paul Mason goes behind the scenes of the Greek crisis to report on the rise of Syriza, the risks they took and the repercussions the party faced when they attempted to stand up to the global finance system.

Premiering this week, #ThisIsACoup offers an unprecedented access to the politicians, activists and journalists who backed Syriza. Despite winning by an electoral landslide, the party’s aim of bringing about a new type of politics came to an abrupt end when they faced the giants of the Eurozone and were forced to back down.

Produced and narrated by Paul Mason and directed by Theopi Skarlatos, the series gives a unique account of the magnitude of crisis Greece faced this year and uncovers what it was actually like for the everyone involved.

Episode two ‘To pay or not to Pay’, follows Syriza’s watershed moment when the party decided to play a new kind of politics by refusing to play ball with the Eurozone and declining to pay back their ever increasing mountain of debt. Despite the backlash from both the European Union and central banks, Syriza are determined to stand by their word.

Elected just under a year ago, Syriza’s rise to power was supposed to pave the way for a new type of politics. In a country where unemployment was at 50% and the nation’s debt stood at 170% of GDP (the second highest level of any nation in the world), Syriza stood for a new type of accountability. A type of politics where politicians didn’t have to hold their hands up to the banks and surrender, but instead they would fight for a sense of self and sovereignty; where super star Ministers of Finance could ride up to the doors of diplomatic negotiations and do the unthinkable – refuse to repay their creditors.

But that isn’t the only radical move the party decided to make. In the episode, Paul interviews the prime minster, Alexis Tspiras, after he refuses to admit defeat and passes a law giving free food and electricity to the poorest people in Greece.

From a disaffected electorate left reeling from broken promises to a fractured political system, the series asks where Europe stands in the wake of the Greek referendum and if political optimism as a whole has eroded.

“We’re the only country in the world that pays our creditors with our blood” – Alexis Tspiras

#ThisIsACoup tells the story from the perspective of several main characters. From exclusive interviews with Prime minster Alexis Tspiras and Yanis Varoufakis, it also follows human rights lawyer Zoe Konstantopoulou and Euclid Tsakalotos, the Economy minster brought in to soften Greek stance in talks and eventually replaces Varoufakis when he’s sacked on the 6th of July.

The stakes for Greece are high – internally and in the wider political landscape. If they stand down, not only will they lose face but they also run the risk of losing the faith instilled in them by a new type of voter.

This year alone has seen a rise on the number of leftist European political parties prepared to take on the main staple of leadership and aim for a greater piece of the political pie. Pablo Iglesias’ Podemos is just one example in a long list of European parties aimed at addressing endemic issues of corruption, economic injustices and unemployment in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis. In just three days time, the Spanish electorate will cast a vote in an election whose outcome is set to seal the success of whether or not we can be persuaded that another way is possible.

#ThisIsACoup isn’t just an interesting account of when radical politics breaks down. It’s an insight into what the repercussions might be for new emerging forms of governance as a whole. With Brexit looming, next year we look towards the possibility of our own referendum. What, if anything can we lean from Greece, the birthplace of democracy, and has the promise of a united left movement across Europe burnt out alongside the demonstrations in Athens?

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