Greece Bailout Talks Are Syriza’s First Real Test in Power

Greece Bailout Talks Are Syriza’s First Real Test in Power
A busker plays music in front of graffiti that refers to Greece’s Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras in the Plaka district of Athens, Feb. 21, 2015 (AP photo by Thanassis Stavrakis).

On Friday, European finance ministers meeting in Brussels reached a deal to extend Greece’s bailout by four months. As part of the deal, Greece was given 48 hours to present a list of reforms to creditors, including measures such as cracking down on tax evasion and relaxing labor laws. This list is due to be submitted by midnight on Monday, and if creditors do not feel the reforms go far enough, the entire deal could collapse.

The tentative agreement eases some of the uncertainty that came with the victory of the radical left Syriza party in Greece’s snap election in January. As I wrote earlier this month:

The biggest element of Syriza’s campaign platform was the promise to renegotiate the terms of Greece’s $268 billion bailout from the so-called troika of the European Commission, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the European Central Bank. Greece’s debt is currently $357 billion, or 175 percent of its gross domestic product. The strict austerity program, which arguably saved the euro from collapse in 2010, has been a disaster for Greeks and the Greek economy: Unemployment skyrocketed to 28 percent, with youth employment at a staggering 60 percent, as Greece experienced a full-fledged depression.

But, as Dimitri Sotiropoulos wrote in the run-up to the election last month, even under the previous conservative New Democracy government, the bailout program was facing problems:

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