Legitimizing austerity in crisis-hit Greece
(Re-)articulating ‘social-democracy’ in political discourses of the socialist and left-populist parties
The article examines two key-speeches given by Greek PMs, at crucial junctures of the Greek crisis, both aiming to legitimize austerity programs to the Greek population. The speeches by Papandreou (Socialists) and Tsipras (Radical Left) represent critical moments of the crisis as the two PMs prepared to annul their pre-election promises for a cessation of austerity. Within a CDS framework, we combine Systemic-Functional and Cognitive-Linguistic perspectives to demonstrate that both speeches, contrary to depoliticized/technocratic (neoliberal) discourse, converge on the construction of a discourse that privileges ‘the people/nation’ while, contrary to left-populist discourse, obscure any references to ‘the-establishment’. We, thus, offer evidence of how left-wing discourses (of both established socialists and radical left) publicly (pro-)claim the reconfiguration of social-democracy while, in fact, capitulating to market demands for neoliberal austerity policies. Findings corroborate the view that real social-democracy has been neutered at the European level.
Keywords: Greek crisis, austerity, left-wing discourses, national identity, populism, neoliberalism, social-democracy, Systemic-Functional Grammar, cognitive linguistics
Published online: 03 April 2020
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