The Observer view on the Greek elections | Observer editorial

The lesson of the Greek national polls is that austerity must end

There are limits to humiliation. Barring an extraordinary upset, Syriza, a radical leftwing party previously confined to the political margins, will win Sunday’s Greek general election. Last-minute opinion polls gave Syriza a lead of between 4% and 6% over the ruling New Democracy party of prime minister, Antonis Samaras. Its youthful leader, Alexis Tsipras, may not win an outright majority. He may struggle to find coalition partners. But that will not diminish the significance of Syriza’s victory, nor lessen its potentially dramatic implications for Greece and all Europe.

Many explanations can be found for this political upheaval, but humiliation is a good place to start. Since the 2008 crisis, Greeks have been subjected to what many feel is a sustained, brutal and unnecessarily destructive attack on their basic living standards, way of life and national independence. If a country is invaded and occupied by hostile forces, it might expect to lose its freedom and its voice. But the subjugation of Greece, in the name of fiscal responsibility, debt reduction and structural reform, was undertaken by so-called friendly powers, principally, Germany, Europe’s paymaster, and the troika comprising the EU commission, European central bank and IMF. While dictating terms in the form of a €240bn bailout and a swingeing austerity programme, Greece’s new masters forgot that Athens, home of the polis, the original democratic city state of enfranchised citizens, had not lost its power of speech. It had not forfeited its right to resist. Modern Greece is a small country of 11 million people. It was never wealthy. But as its history shows, what Greece has, it holds, or will ever try to do so. Thus Sunday’s elections look set to produce an angry, nationwide outcry from freeborn citizens, saying: this is our country and we want it back. National humiliation must end.

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Red tape and skills gap threaten hope of record growth for India

With its growing, working, consuming population, India could overtake China as the world’s fastest-expanding economy, but only with much reform and rapid industrialisation

This weekend, with President Barack Obama making his second visit to the Indian capital, many international eyes are on the Indian economy which, after having flagged for several years, is showing significant signs of renewed vitality.

A decade ago, India was frequently bracketed with China as one of the Bric economies – rising global powers whose young population and sheer size gave them huge potential. But while China has romped ahead, growing at double-digit rates, India, the world’s largest democracy, has sometimes struggled to live up to those hopes.

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Who needs a ‘long-term economic plan’ when the oil price is falling like this?

The Tories must know their strategy has failed. But, unlike the governments of the 1970s, the energy market has saved them

I have taken part in many a pub discussion about the perennial question of whether governments lose elections or oppositions win them, or a mixture of both. If ever a postwar British government deserved to lose an election it is this one. That is why the Labour party has got to get its act together, and soon.

The gravamen of the charge against this government is that, for all the triumphalism about a long-delayed period of economic growth, it woefully mishandled the economy when it came in – and plans an assault on our already deteriorating public services, if it is re-elected, that would quite seriously threaten the social fabric of the nation.

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China’s slowdown means vigilance is key for UK firms trading in far east

Concern grows for British companies trading in the Chinese market as domestic demand wanes

Welsh milk may seem an unlikely export to a burgeoning Chinese consumer class better known for its appetite for Burberry macs and Range Rovers. But Laurence Harris has dispatched six shipping containers full of his organic dairy products to China in the past eight weeks.

“It’s quite exciting for a small company in west Wales,” he says. “Milk in general is treated as a health drink in China.” His company, Daioni, has been supplying Pret a Manger outlets in Hong Kong – and has seen little evidence of the slowdown in Chinese growth that has started to show up in official statistics.

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Hard times return as China bids to bring its economic miracle to an end

Beijing insists slow growth is part of a plan to bring years of explosive expansion under control. But the global slowdown may make it hard to soft-land an economy still hooked on exports

China’s president, Xi Jinping, calls it the “new normal” – but strikes are increasing, wages going unpaid and businesses are struggling to survive as the vast economy adjusts to a more sedate pace of growth after more than a decade of explosive expansion.

Official figures published last week showed that China’s GDP expanded by 7.4% in 2014. That was a significant drop from the 7.7% seen in 2013, and the weakest rate of growth since 1990, when the country was grappling with international sanctions in the wake of the Tiananmen Square massacre.

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