The Slatest

Anti-Austerity Party Syriza Wins Big, Puts Greece on Collision Course With Europe

Supporters of the leftist Syriza party cheer at exit poll results which indicate that Syriza have a clear lead on Jan. 25, 2015 in in Athens, Greece.  

Photo by Milos Bicanski/Getty Images

It was a historic day in Greece on Sunday. After years of extreme EU- and IMF-imposed austerity, Greeks gave a clear vote against that economic prescription for their ailing country. And while a victory for the leftist Syriza party was expected, the huge margin has come as a surprise. The two parties that have ruled the country since the fall of the military junta in 1974 were reduced to mere spectators as the big question Sunday night was whether Syriza would obtain enough votes to secure 151 of the 300 seats in parliament, which would allow it to rule without a coalition. So far, it seems it will fall slightly short. With around 75 percent of the votes counted, Syriza was set to win 149 seats, according to the BBC.

For the European Union, the result will undoubtedly be a challenge, and seemingly everyone talks about how Greece will be on a collision course with the EU leadership, because voters have staunchly rejected the austerity mandated from Brussels and Berlin to deal with the Eurozone crisis. The Guardian explains:

The damning popular verdict on Europe’s response to financial meltdown is a haunting outcome for the EU’s political elite. For the first time, power has been handed to populist outsiders deeply opposed to Brussels and Berlin, albeit not anti-European, unlike their counterparts on the far right across the EU. For the first time a child of the European crisis, an explicitly anti-austerity party will take office in the EU.

“Greece leaves behind catastrophic austerity, it leaves behind fear and authoritarianism, it leaves behind five years of humiliation and anguish,” Alexis Tsipras, the charismatic leader of Syriza, said on Sunday night. Tsipras has vowed to renegotiate with creditors who put up $284 billion to bail out Greece and said he would demand that some of the country’s debt be canceled. Considering the creditors are likely to push back, many think it’s likely that Greece could end up exiting the euro, “imperiling the rest of the currency union along the way,” points out the Washington Post.

Alexis Tsipras speaks to supporters after winning the election on Jan. 25, 2015 in Athens, Greece.  

Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images