Tuesday

19th Feb 2019

Syriza to win Greek election

  • "Greece is turning a page," said Tsipras (Photo: bluto blutarski)

Greece's anti-austerity Syriza party is on course to win Sunday's parliamentary elections making it the first far-left party to win power in the EU since the economic crisis and possibly heralding a change in eurozone policies.

Led by 40-year old Alexis Tsipras, Syriza was Sunday (25 January) evening heading for a more convincing victory than polls prior to the vote had predicted.

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Official results from 54.2 percent of polling stations counted showed Syriza with 35.9 percent and prime minister Antonis Samaras' centre-right New Democracy with 28.3 percent, reports AP.

"Today we have celebration, tomorrow we start to work hard," said Tsipras, speaking after Samaras officially conceded defeat.

"Today was a defeat for the Greece of the elites and the oligarchs. We regain hope, optimism and dignity", he added.

"Greece is leaving behind the austerity that led to destruction. The verdict of the people makes the troika history in our common European framework," he said referring to the European commission, ECB and IMF representatives who oversaw the country's reform programme.

Syriza's spectacular rise to power has come on the back of the harsh price Greeks have had to pay for their international bailouts, resulting in tax hikes, wage cuts, slashes in public spending, and an unemployment rate of about 50 percent among young people.

Tsipras originally said he wanted to tear up the terms of the country's bailouts, but modified his language in the run-up to Sunday's vote to say that he wants to renegotiate Greece's debt.

It is unclear whether Syriza has won enough to govern outright or if it needs to form a coalition.

The Greek election is being closely followed around Europe, particularly in fiscally hawkish countries such as Germany.

"Any new government must stick to the contractual agreements of its predecessors," said German finance minister Wolfgang Schaeuble at the end of December.

An updated version of this message was delivered by Bundesbank chief Jens Weidmann on Sunday evening.

"I hope the new government won't call into question what is expected and what has already been achieved," he told public broadcaster ARD.

Meanwhile, a Syriza victory may inspire radical left parties elsewhere - Spain is due elections this year and, as in Greece, its traditional centrist parties have been challenged by the rise of a leftist party, Podemos.

Eurozone in suspense as Greeks head to polls

Greeks head to the polls on Sunday in what could see the far-left Syriza party re-write the rules of the country's bailout and start a new trend in European politics.

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