Friday

24th May 2019

Radical left and neo-Nazis score well in Greek elections

  • Radical left leader Alexis Tsipras is pro-euro but against the bail-out (Photo: Wayne Lam (Ramius))

Greek voters on Sunday (6 May) punished the two ruling parties responsible for the last EU bail-out and its austerity measures by giving the radical left the second highest number of votes and allowing a neo-Nazi party into the legislature for the first time.

Early official results after 10 percent of the votes were count show that the centre-right New Democracy party has gained the most votes (19.2%) but it is not enough to re-make the current ruling coalition with the Social Democrats (Pasok).

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Instead, Syriza, a coalition of radical left parties (16.3%) opposing the austerity rules of the €130 billion bail-out, but in favour for Greece to stay in the eurozone, pushed Pasok into third place.

The right-wing Independent Greeks, a splinter party from New Democracy also openly against the bail-out, scored over ten percent.

New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras, who will have three days to try and form a government, may try and woo his former party colleagues back into a coalition with Pasok (14.6%).

Vying with Syriza as the biggest news of the election is the score of the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party. It is to hold 21 seats in the parliament after it convinced almost seven percent of the voters.

Despite denying the neo-Nazi label, Golden Dawn activists often salute like Hitler and want landmines planted on the Greek borders to fend off illegal immigrants.

The Communist Party and the Democratic Left - bolstered by defections from Pasok - also scored above the five-percent threshold. They may be drawn into a leftist government if Samaras fails to form a majority and Syriza leader Alexis Tsipras is given the same task.

If no government is formed by 17 May, elections are to be held again, putting in question the long-negotiated bail-out and the implementation of the required budget cuts and reforms ranging from tax collection to labour market and privatisations.

Under the agreement with EU lenders signed by the outgoing Pasok-New Democracy government, a further €11 billion in spending cuts are due to be found by June in exchange for the next tranche of bail-out money.

The highly unpopular troika of officials from the EU commission, the International Monetary Fund and the European Central Bank is due to arrive in Athens in the next few weeks to inspect whether the conditions of the bail-out are being kept to.

Most of the aid, however, is going to banks and to the repayment of Greece's crushing foreign debt, which is why the Greek people are angry at the politicians who backed the bail-out.

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Markets are in jitters after the victory by a Socialist president in France and a strong mandate for anti-bail-out parties in Greece have put in doubt the German-driven focus on budget discipline in Europe.

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