11.16am: Alexis Tsipras, leader of Greece’s Syriza coalition, is conducting a flying visit to France and Germany this week.
The radical left-wing leader is trying to build alliances with European figures who share his believe that Europe’s austerity drive is wrong, and should be replaced with a new growth drive.
Tsipras is visiting Paris first, where he will meet with far-left leader Jean-Luc Melenchon, and Pierre Laurent, president of the European left party. The trio are expected to hold a press conference later today.
Tomorrow, Tsipras will meet Klaus Ernst, the co-leader of the German left-wing party Linke, and Gregor Gysy, the chair of the German left’s parliamentary group, in Berlin.
Tsipras has said that he hopes his trip will reassure Europe that he is not a dangerous extremist, but actually the leader of a “pro-European force”.
Leaving aside the fact that there is no necessary contradiction between being the leader of a “pro-European force” and being a dangerous extremist, Tsipras’s choice of meetings hardly inspires much confidence in his moderation. To say that the thuggish Melenchon is far-left is an understatement, Gregor Gysi is a slimy survivor of old East Berlin and the Linke is the successor to the former East German communist party.
Poor Greece. Between the Neo-Nazi Golden Dawn, Syriza’s red dawn, and the incompetence and graft of the country’s mainstream parties, its electors are faced with some very unappetizing choices.
Better the crooks and failures they know, I reckon.