Greece’s voters have delivered a victory for governing party Syriza in a snap general election, despite fears among the party’s supporters that the race was too close to call.
The elections were called by Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras this summer in the hopes that they would consolidate his position after he experienced tough opposition while driving the legislation required for Greece’s bailout through parliament. His party took around 35 per cent of the vote and his revived coalition with the nationalist Independent Greeks party has a six-seat majority.
Here are four key things we’ve learned from the vote.
The left isn’t licked…
Syriza’s closest rival in the race was the conservative New Democracy party, which took around 28 per cent of the vote. Polls suggested that the gap between the two parties was much closer, and Tsipras and New Democracy leader Vangelis Meimarakis faced each other in heated TV debates, with Tsipras forced to rule out co-operation with his rival in a recent bout. Today’s result shows that, despite scandals, setbacks and disappointments, Greeks are happy to give their premiere, a former member of Greece’s Communist youth, another chance. The victory has been welcomed by Spanish left-wingers Podemos, and will likely please supporters of British Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn. The centre-left party Pasok, which took no seats in the January elections that first handed power to Syriza, now have 17 seats in parliament.
…But no time for radicals
As well as an attack from the conservative right, Tsipras faced opposition on his left flank. Accused of betrayal after he signed Greece up to a final bailout deal which involved austerity conditions—an economic strategy he was originally elected to oppose—prominent far-left members of Syriza formed a breakaway party, Popular Unity. Voters did not share their rage, it would appear; the new group fell short of the 3 per cent threshold for seats in parliament.
Revolt on the right?
Less-reported outside of Greece than the remarkable success of Syriza, the far-right party Golden Dawn has also been growing its support among voters tired of the EU, austerity and mass immigration. In these elections it saw a small but notable increase in its parliamentary power base, growing its seats from 17 to 19.