Sunday, January 25, 2015

Syriza wins big

As expected, Syriza was the decisive winner in Greece's parliamentary elections. Early reports suggest that it got about 36% of the votes, compared with about 28% for outgoing Prime Minister Antonio Samaras's right-of-center New Democracy. And with the bonus of 50 seats that go to the party with the most votes, Syriza is currently projected to get 149 seats out of 300—tantalizingly close to an absolute majority. (PASOK, the long-time governing party of the Greek social-democratic left, which won a 160-seat majority as recently as 2009, has collapsed so thoroughly that it seems to have barely cleared the 3% minimum to get into parliament this time.)

BBC reporter Gavin Hewitt was just one of many analysts to observe that this election result "will send shock waves through Europe". Here's an election roundup from the Guardian:

Here’s summary of a momentous election result for the future of Greece and Europe:

° The anti-austerity far left party Syriza has won the Greek election by a decisive margin, but just short of an outright majority. With more than three-quarters of the results in Syriza is projected to win 149 seats in the 300 seat parliament.

° Syriza leader Alexis Tsipras said his party’s victory marked an end to the “vicious cycle of austerity”. Referring to the neoliberal conditions set by the IMF, the European Commission and the European Central Bank, he said: “ The verdict of the Greek people renders the troika a thing of the past for our common European framework.”

° Outgoing prime minister Antonis Samaras conceded defeated by acknowledging some mistakes. But he added: “We restored Greece’s international credibility”.

° To Potami, the centre-left party could be the kingmakers in the new parliament, with a project 16 seats. Its leader Stavros Theodorakis has not ruled out a deal with Syriza. “It’s too early for such details,” he said.

° The far-right Golden Dawn party is projected to come third in election, despite having more than half of its MPs in jail. Speaking from prison its leader Nikolaos Michaloliakos said the result was a “great victory” for the neo-fascist party.

° Syriza victory has been greeted with alarm in Germany. The ruling CDU party insisting that Greece should stick to the austerity programme. But Belgium’s finance minister said there is room for negotiation with Syriza.

° Leftwingers across Europe have hailed Syriza win. Spain’s anti-austerity party Podemos said Greece finally had a government rather than a German envoy. Britain’s Green Party said Syriza’s victory was an inspiration.
It's worth adding that many figures on the anti-EU right, including the leaders of France's National Front, have also hailed Syriza's victory.

—Jeff Weintraub

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