As Alexis Tsipras took to Twitter yesterday to field questions the hashtag #AskTsipras was trending 3rd worldwide.
by Pavlos Zafiropoulos |
The move by the SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras to field questions via Twitter yesterday may have been portrayed by the party as evidence of the leftist leader’s rejection of mainstream media in favour of connecting directly with the voters, but it still succeeded in making a lot of conventional headlines.
Reflecting the international interest in the upcoming elections and the significant likelihood that Tsipras will lead Greece’s next government, 32,000 tweets were submitted with the hashtag #askTsipras in the space of a few hours. According to Twitter ‘#AskTsipras’ was trending top in Greece yesterday and 3rd worldwide.
Of course with so many Tweets to choose from the organizers of the event – which was hosted by the SYRIZA friendly Avgi newspaper – were able to pick and choose the questions Tsipras was to answer, offering little by way of discomfort. Instead it was more of an opportunity for Tsipras to mainly repeat the main points of SYRIZA’s platform.
Some of the main points of #AskTsipras interview
The SYRIZA leader promised to implement a fairer tax system, combating the excessive taxation on average citizens with greater taxes on wealth.
With regards to corruption Tsipras said that he plans to combat this with a new anti-corruption bureau answerable directly to the prime minister. He also promised to ‘end the party’ for contractors and ‘national procurers’ benefiting from bloated state contracts. In a separate answer he accused the Hellenic Asset Development Fund (responsible for Greece’s privatization program) of being a ‘breeding ground for scandals’ maintaining that the current privatization program was to ‘serve interests’ and that it hadn’t helped reduce Greece’s debt. SYRIZA has vowed to re-examine the privatizations of state assets that have already gone ahead.
He named the state run companies for water, electricity, energy and telecommunications as being of ‘strategic importance’. In a separate answer he also described the privatization of Olympic Airways several years ago as a ‘national crime’.
Tsipras reiterated his pledge to order an inquiry into the actions that led Greece into the Memorandum and hold those culpable of misdeeds accountable.
He also said that he would reform the police, with an emphasis on the effective combating of crime while dismantling the ‘police state’. He also said that he wanted the police who come in contact with protesters to be disarmed.
Reflecting his adoption of more moderate views in light of the elections, Tsipras backed away from earlier pledges to pull Greece out of NATO. When asked whether he would honor that party position he said “We will not take part in NATO with a bowed head. We will not support military interventions. We will defend international legality.”
Of course the #asktsipras hashtag was also bait for a number of internet wags asking everything from how Homeland is likely to end, who will die next on Game of Thrones and whether they should wear a jacket out.