Interesting election in Greece

Yesterday’s election results showed that the left-wing party Syriza led by a 40-year old former communist Alexis Tsipras has won . As an aside, I was encouraged to see that he departed from tradition and rather than being sworn in by the archbishop as tradition dictated, he had a civil ceremony.

His party has formed a coalition government with the populist but rightwing Independent Greeks party. It will be interesting to see how those strange bedfellows work out the relationship.

With 36.3 % of the vote, Syriza fell two seats short of the 151 MPs it needed to govern alone. The Independent Greeks, who have huge ideological differences with the leftists but are bonded by the desire to end biting EU-IMF-mandated cutbacks, won 4.75% of the vote and 13 seats. The conservative New Democracy party – the dominant force in a coalition lead by the outgoing prime minister Antonis Samaras – suffered ignominious defeat, collapsing to 76 seats in the 300-seat parliament.

Although ideologically different, both parties campaigned on an anti-austerity platform, opposing the policies that had been imposed on them by the other Eurozone countries, particularly Germany, and that has resulted in much hardship on the people.

After five years of austerity-fuelled recession that has driven the vast majority of Greeks into poverty and despair, Syriza cadres described the new administration as a “national salvation government”.

With more than 26% of the population out of work, and more than a third at risk of poverty, the new government was assuming the reins not only of a broke state but a broken society.

This is undoubtedly going to cause great turmoil in the European Union with questions about whether Greece will remain part of it or choose to leave or be kicked out. If a separation is to occur, how such an unprecedented move would take place will also have to be worked out.


  1. Paulo Borges says

    On the shoulders of Alexis fall all the hopes of the left that really wants to be a part of the change, of the new Europe. This is not however the leftovers of the “old left” which are very comfortable with the opposition part with the odd outdated slogan.
    If Alexis manages to pull this off and Greece improves, there will be an political earthquake in the EU.
    The best possible scenario is groups like Syriza (of leftist inspiration) popping out all over Europe, getting votes mostly from the abstention. Podemos in Spain is on the right track.
    If they can make people believe again, things can change, if not we are all doomed.

  2. sc_770d159609e0f8deaa72849e3731a29d says

    the left-wing party Syriza

    It’s an interesting example of how “left” and “right” have shifted that the policies they propose to deal with Greece’s problems are standard Keynesianism.

  3. Lassi Hippeläinen says

    AFAIK Greece isn’t about to leave the EU. The discussion is only about leaving the Euroland, i.e. changing the currency from euro to drakhma. It would allow fixing the problems of Greek economy by letting the drakhma devalue. (If that actually fixes anything is not so clear…)

  4. Who Cares says

    There is another reason to drop the Euro. If things don’t work about after the devaluation they have the possibility to default. They’ll be the pariah of the financial world for quite a while and ultimately only works if they get their expenses and income in balance. It can be done, as shown by Chile (excepting a few vultures who are still trying to get 100% of the debt they bought for cents to the dollar) but if the people in Greece think things are bad now just wait until that happens.

  5. Paulo Borges says

    Greece will not leave the euro or the EU, neither will any other member of or EU, the prospects are for more to join the EU and the euro.
    What most people fail to see is that membership of the euro and the EU is not merely an economical decision, it’s a political decision with all the strings that come attached. If it was a mere economical decision half of the EU members would not be in the EU or the euro.
    The main problem with the reaction to the Greek and in a smaller scale Portuguese debt has been that the same rules have not been applied, it has been dealt as a simple economic problem with solutions presented or imposed by technocrats.

  6. says

    [H]e departed from tradition and rather than being sworn in by the archbishop as tradition dictated, he had a civil ceremony.

    No doubt that drove the far right into a tizzy, considering how vocal theocrats and fascists became in Greece over the past decade.

    Regarding economics, the Argentine example is a good one. The new government might say to the IMF and others, “What are you going to do us? Seize the country?” One would hope it starts other countries on standing up to the banksters. If dozen debtor countries do this all at once, it could have a major effect and force a change.

    There are countries which have internal breakaway states for political reasons (e.g. Russia, Modova, Somalia, etc.). Greece might try the same economically, still using the Euro but refusing to be dictated to.

  7. sc_770d159609e0f8deaa72849e3731a29d says

    What most people fail to see is that membership of the euro and the EU is not merely an economical decision, it’s a political decision with all the strings that come attached In fact, Paolo Borges, that is what more and more people are seeing. One reason for the growing hostility to the Euro in Germany is the realisation that it means Germany pays for it- German manufacturers do well out of it, but not the German people. A single currency works in the USA because there are state-sponsored and imposed subsidies within it. In Europe there are even larger political divisions.

  8. Paulo Borges says

    @ 11 sc_770d159609e0f8deaa72849e3731a29d
    The is of course no comparison between EU and US and there are many political divisions however there is one things that unites most of the European citizens, we are all afraid of the current trend of eroding our core values.
    Take for example, in Portugal, the education, it does not make sense that a student has to pay 1000 euros tuition per year in a public university or pay fees when using public heath system.
    There will have to be a change and all these political division of states will become a division between politicians and people. We need a new May of 68 to make politicians understand that the citizens own Europe, not politicians or anonymous banks and corporations. Soyez réalistes, demandez l’impossible.

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