Conspicuous absence

By Angelos Stangos

Sadly, SYRIZA chief Alexis Tsipras snubbed this week’s televised debate between candidates for the presidency of the European Commission. By doing so, the leader of Greece’s leftist opposition missed an opportunity to address a Europe-wide audience and convince them to “vote against the Europe of the banks, of the multinationals, of neoliberalism, of austerity, of [German Chancellor Angela] Merkel, of [European Parliament President Martin] Schulz, of German domination and imperialism.”

Tsipras missed a chance to convince Europeans to instead vote for “the other Europe... of labor, of rights, of solidarity, of democracy... of equal cooperation between the people, of socialism,” and everything else that is mentioned in his party’s manifesto ahead of this month’s European Parliament elections.

Sad, indeed. For such an opportunity should not go to waste by a candidate who is running for European Commission president also in the name of a wide range of leftist parties across the continent.

After all, according to that same manifesto, Tsipras was picked by Europe’s left-wing parties because he symbolizes and can express “radical criticism and an alternative proposal.” The same declaration said that Tsipras’s candidacy will allow parties on the left to “galvanize our forces and breathe a new life into the battle... of the people of Europe.”

Tsipras blamed his absence on his busy schedule and on receiving a late invitation from the organizers. He has, however, said he will participate in the May 15 debate. This will be his only chance to appear before European voters, to rally the fighting forces of the European left and to guide these people in the struggle to replace today’s Europe with a “different” one.

Will a single appearance be enough to achieve this? We will have to wait and see. If Tsipras succeeds, then he will have proved that his absence from the latest debate was not due to insecurity caused by his poor command of the English language, his poor knowledge of EU affairs or his innate provincialism. But if he fails...