SYRIZA’s victory and its consequences

Author : Anton Pechenkin

14:00, 21 September 2015

SYRIZA’s victory and its consequences

Author : Anton Pechenkin

Radical left to form new government in Greece

14:00, 21 September 2015

Lefteris Pitarakis/AP

On the last pre-term parliamentary elections in Greece, which happened yesterday, September 20, coalition of the radical left “SYRIZA”, led by Alexis Tsipras, got a convincing victory. After the latest information from the elections’ web site, after counting 99.72% of votes, “SYRIZA” has 35.5%, and its nearest competitor, conservative “New Democracy”, lags behind for more than 7%. After the country’s constitution, the winning party gets additional 50 mandates in the parliament, which makes it most likely to form the new government. According to preliminary calculations, “SYRIZA” receives 145 mandates of 300 total (“New Democracy”, for comparison, gets 75), which draws the best preliminary conditions for governing coalition building.

On the previous elections on January 2015, “SYRIZA” has won for the first time in this history with a program to reject the austerity course, inflicted by the “Troika” of creditors (European Commission, International Monetary Fund, and European Central Bank) in order to overcome the deep debt crisis, which the country is facing since 2009. Then, the left coalition got 149 seats, and formed quite unexpected coalition with right-populist “Independent Greeks”.

During the short existence of Tsipras’ Cabinet, Athens conducted tough negotiations with the creditors on the debt relief without spending cuts, managed by the previous conservative government. The most remarkable events of this period were the referendum on the “Troika’s” new offers (more than 60% of Greeks supported the government’s position, voting “against” this package), closing all country’s banks for two weeks in July, and, at last, reaching the agreement with the EU high authorities on the more moderate terms of budget economy that it has been offered before. However, the last Tsipras’ decision angered some of “SYRIZA” active, who accused him in violating the coalition’s manifesto and accepting odious austerity measures, and thereafter left the ruling coalition in the parliament. This led to the governmental crisis, Tsipras’ Cabinet’s resignation on August 20, and announcement of the new elections.

During the last weeks of campaign, opinion polls have shown very close gap between “SYRIZA” and its conservative rivals from “New Democracy”. Some share of left electorate has flown to the “Popular Unity”, another left party organized by Tsipras’ former fellows after his agreement with the creditors. Several observers had stated, that these elections were the moment of truth for Tsipras and his political future. However, the left coalition managed to demonstrate quite a convincing lead over its competitors. In fact, “SYRIZA’s” support has declined only for near 1% comparing to January elections, which shows that most of Greeks are still optimistic of the radical lefts after their half-a-year being in office and making controversial decisions.

Yesterday evening, during the loud celebration in the centre of Athens, Tsipras thanked for support, called it “the victory of the people”, and together with Pannos Cammenos, leader of the right-populist “Independent Greeks”, announced recreation of their previous parliamentary alliance. Together with minor partners, who get 10 seats, Tsipras will have support of 155 MPs of total 300. Several European high officials, including President of France Holland and President of the European Parliament Schulz, congratulated Tsipras on victory. The latter called to form the able government as quick as much and to start fulfilling the agreements, reached by Athens and Brussels in August.

The most liberal and conservative politicians and observers in both EU member countries and Ukraine react to “SYRIZA” and Tsipras like a bull to a red rag, accusing him in reckless populism, leftism, intention to ruin the Euro zone, and loyalty to Putin.

It must be noticed, that in the latest time Athens held the active cooperation with Moscow, which promised credits and investment for Greece. Together with it, Greece alone with Cyprus have not ratified the EU Association Agreement with Ukraine yet.

Tsipras and his Cabinet have used playing with Moscow, and Ukrainian question in particular, as means of pressure to Brussels and Berlin. In this case, Ukraine appears to be a hostage of the EU-Greece problematic relations. Kyiv needs to take its best to find friends in Athens and lobby adopting the Association Agreement by the Hellenic parliament. As another point of interest is that the August agreement between Athens and Brussels, although been criticized for accepting by Tsipras tough austerity measures and unpopular reforms, are far more profitable for Athens that the debt restructuring terms, reached by Yatsenyuk and Yaresko this month. 

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