Alexis Tsipras will be sworn in as Greece’s prime minister later on Monday and his new government formally announced on Tuesday, Greek media said, after the leftist Syriza leader romped to an unexpectedly convincing election victory. The result on Sunday was a personal triumph for the 41-year-old, who gambled on the snap poll last month to see off a revolt by party radicals over his U-turn on accepting more tough austerity measures in exchange for Greece’s third international bailout. The premier-elect will now make renegotiating the terms of Greece’s debt mountain a top priority. He will attempt to build a broad consensus among the parties he defeated so as to strengthen his hand in talks with the country’s eurozone creditors, a senior Syriza source told Reuters. “We will continue negotiations in the coming period, with the debt issue being the first and most important battle,” the source said. “We will ask all political forces to support our efforts.”
Former prime minister Alexis Tsipras on Friday brushed off election polls suggesting his leftist Syriza party might lose to its conservative rival in Greece’s election, saying he had a large group of supporters not reflected by pollsters. He was speaking on the last day of formal campaigning for Sunday’s general election with polls showing a cliffhanger vote expected and some pointing to a win by the conservative New Democracy party. Neither party, however, is expected to get the proportion of the vote needed – roughly 38 percent – to gain a majority in the 300-seat parliament, meaning a coalition is a near certainty. “There is a voting body that is below the radar, it is not being traced,” Tsipras, who was to stage a final rally later in the day, told Greece’s ANT 1 television.
Vassiliki Thanou, Greece’s top supreme court judge, was sworn in Thursday as a caretaker head of the government, becoming the country’s first female prime minister. Yesterday, the country’s far-left leader also formally gave up a bid to form a coalition government, thereby allowing the President to finally set a date for early elections, after a week of political wrangling. Greece’s prime minister on Wednesday raised the political stakes forward of subsequent month’s early nationwide election, saying he won’t enter a coalition with the primary center-right and centrist opposition events even when he wants their backing to control. She will hold the position until a new government emerges from the vote expected on September 20.
Called to the ballot box for the third time in eight months, some Greeks are responding to election fatigue with a bailout-sized dose of Internet humour. In one hit post on the news site Protagon, comedienne Lila Stabouloglou suggested “electoral tourism” could prove a handy money-spinner for Greece’s cash-strapped authorities in the run-up to the vote in three weeks’ time. “The Greek Tourism Organisation is enthusiastically preparing to promote the idea of electoral tourism ahead of the vote on September 20,” she wrote in the mock news report. Her post was topped with a fake campaign poster, showing a ballot box floating alongside two boats in beautiful turquoise waters. “Live Your Elections in Greece”, it said — a riff on a well-known old tourism campaign, “Live Your Myth in Greece”.
Seven months after he was elected on a promise to overturn austerity, the Greek prime minister, Alexis Tsipras, has announced he is stepping down to pave the way for snap elections next month. As the debt-crippled country received the first tranche of a punishing new €86bn (£61bn) bailout, Tsipras said on Thursday he felt “a moral obligation to place this deal in front of the people, to allow them to judge … both what I have achieved, and my mistakes”. The 41-year-old Greek leader is still popular with voters for having at least tried to stand up to the country’s creditors and his leftwing Syriza party is likely to be returned to power in the imminent general election, which government officials told Greek media was most likely to take place on 20 September. The prime minister insisted in an address on public television that he was proud of his time in office and had got “a good deal for the country”, despite bringing it “close to the edge”. He added he was “shortly going to submit my resignation, and the resignation of my government, to the president”. The prime minister will be replaced for the duration of the short campaign by the president of Greece’s supreme court, Vassiliki Thanou-Christophilou – a vocal bailout opponent – as head of a caretaker government.
Early elections in Greece are “imperative” to maintain the country’s political stability as it begins to implement an unpopular third debt bailout, a minister said Monday. “Elections are imperative for purposes of political stability. Given the problems in the government’s (parliamentary) majority, the situation can be called anything but stable,” Energy Minister Panos Skourletis told Skai TV. A third of MPs from the ruling radical left party Syriza last week rebelled against Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras in a vote on the three-year, 86-billion-euro ($96-billion) package, forcing him to rely on opposition parties to ratify it. “Such a major numeric loss of parliamentary majority is unprecedented,” said Skourletis, a former spokesman for Tsipras.
Greeks began voting in a referendum on Sunday that presents the biggest challenge to the running of the euro since its adoption and risks sending shock waves through the world’s financial markets. The nationwide ballot was taking place at the end of a week of unending drama that saw Greece close its banks, ration cash, fail to repay the IMF and lose billions of euros when its bailout programme expired. The vote is on the last terms offered to Greece before its prime minister, Alexis Tsipras, abandoned talks with his country’s lenders last weekend, saying their conditions would only exacerbate the plight of a country whose economy has already shrunk by a quarter. At a rally in the centre of Athens on Friday night, Tsipras urged his compatriots to cast a no ballot, assuring them it would not be a vote for leaving the euro, but for remaining in Europe “with dignity”. Greece’s creditors and most of the opposition parties have claimed that, on the contrary, it could lead to exit from the single market (“Grexit”) and even the European Union.
In Greece’s July 5 referendum, as currently planned, voters will be asked to vote “no” or “yes” on a convoluted question about the country’s creditors’ conditions for further bailout aid. How voters make sense of the ballot question could be decisive in determining the outcome. The referendum campaign so far is largely a contest to define the meaning of the question. Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and his leftwing Syriza party are seeking to convince Greeks that a “no” to creditors’ proposals would safeguard national dignity and strengthen Athens’s bargaining position for the next round of negotiations, without triggering an exit from the euro.
Alexis Tsipras, sworn into office as Greece’s new prime minister a day after his radical leftist Syriza party won a resounding election victory, swiftly forged a coalition government with the aim of shedding European-imposed austerity policies. Syriza has little in common with its coalition partner—the small, right-wing Independent Greeks party—other than a fierce opposition to the austerity measures Greece embarked on in exchange for bailouts from its eurozone partners and the International Monetary Fund. Still, the common bond on that front signals tough negotiations with Greece’s creditors over its debt repayments in the months ahead. Together, Syriza and Independent Greeks will jointly control 162 seats in Greece’s 300-seat legislature. The Independent Greeks are also expected to hold at least one cabinet position in the new government, the details of which are likely to be unveiled on Tuesday.
Greece on Sunday appeared to reject the punishing economics of austerity and send a warning signal to the rest of Europe as exit polls showed the left-wing Syriza party with a strong lead in national elections, leaving the party’s tough-talking leader, Alexis Tsipras, likely to become the next prime minister. Exit polls, released on national television after voting stations closed at 7 p.m., showed Syriza running well ahead of the governing center-right New Democracy Party of Prime Minister Antonis Samaras and in a good position to win a plurality in the multiparty race. It remained unclear whether Syriza would be able to win an outright parliamentary majority, or if it would have to form a coalition with one or more of the trailing parties. Syriza’s likely victory would represent a dramatic milestone for Europe at a time when continuing economic weakness has stirred an angry, populist backlash from France to Spain to Italy, as more voters grow fed up with policies that demand sacrifice to address the discipline of financial markets without delivering more jobs and prosperity. Syriza would become the first anti-austerity party to take power in a eurozone country, and would shatter the two-party political establishment that has dominated Greece for four decades.
Nearly three years since entering parliament after rousing rallies and food handouts, Greece’s far-right Golden Dawn is running a much quieter campaign for Sunday’s election from a high-security prison. With most of its top brass jailed pending trial on charges of being in a criminal gang, Greeks have seen little of one of Europe’s most ardent anti-immigrant parties in recent weeks except for the occasional broadcast and odd leaflet. Golden Dawn, whose leaders deny neo-Nazi sympathies, taps into the same anger at politicians seen as responsible for austerity, wage cuts and record unemployment that is expected to propel the radical leftist Syriza to power. The party’s resilience on Greece’s turbulent political scene, it ranks as high as third in some polls, raises the prospect of an imprisoned far-right leader being asked to form a government if Syriza and the ruling conservatives both fail to win outright or form a coalition.
Greece’s elections on Sunday are poised to give one of a handful of smaller parties a central role in the direction of the country—and possibly the entire eurozone. The opposition leftist Syriza party and the ruling conservatives, New Democracy, are battling for a first-place finish. But neither is likely to get a majority and will need to turn to another party to help govern, putting whoever comes in third in a position to become a kingmaker. The contenders range from the far-right Golden Dawn, shunned by Greece’s mainstream parties, to Pasok—part of the ruling coalition, but a shadow of the party that dominated Greek politics for most of the past four decades.
From the enclaves of north London to Queens in New York City and Oakleigh and Northcote in Melbourne: an entire nation-in-exile is holding its breath before Sunday’s pivotal Greek elections. And for some, the vote is so important that they are even making plans to return to the homeland this week so they can cast their ballot. Ikaros Matsoukas, a 34-year-old management consultant at BHP Billiton, is one of more than 200,000 who have left Greece since the crisis bit five years ago. He feels so strongly about an election in which the leftist Eurosceptics of Syriza are in pole position that he plans to fly home at the weekend. “I believe it is the most important [election] in recent times in Greece,” Matsoukas said. “The coalition parties, with the same politicians, have been ruling the country for the last 40 years and have led Greece to this dire situation so I believe it is time for someone new.
The outcome of Greece’s election on January 25 will be pivotal for Greece—and the way political elites respond across Europe will have a profound impact on the future of the European Union, too. It is the interplay of Greek national debates and European-level policies that make this election distinctive—and so important. The crucial question is how the European dimension influences Greek democracy, and how Greece’s choices affect the future of the European Union. At present, the leftist Syriza party looks set to win the elections. The domestic significance of this is that the party’s emergence overturns the decades-long duopoly of the conservative New Democracy and the socialist Pasok parties. In short, the euro crisis has already profoundly reshaped the very structure of Greek politics. Even if the polls prove wrong and Syriza does not win, politics will not return to the pre-crisis status quo. This is a harbinger of similar political adjustments across Europe.
Greece formally dissolved parliament on Wednesday ahead of a general election on Jan. 25 that has cast its international bailout into doubt and set financial markets on edge just as the euro zone grapples with renewed signs of weakness. The traditional decree calling new elections was posted on the door to parliament two days after lawmakers rejected Prime Minister Antonis Samaras’ candidate for president, automatically triggering a return to the polls. The Jan. 25 vote will mark a showdown between Samaras’ conservative New Democracy party, which imposed unpopular budget cuts under Greece’s bailout deal, and the leftwing Syriza party of Alexis Tsipras, who wants to cancel austerity measures along with a chunk of Greek debt.
Greece: Greece plunged into crisis as failure to elect president sets up snap election | The Guardian
Fears were growing on Monday night of a fresh crisis in the eurozone after Greece failed to elect a head of state, triggering a snap election that is tipped to bring radical, anti-austerity leftists to power. The Athens stock exchange slumped by more than 10% at one point as concerns mounted over the political turmoil likely to hit the twice bailed-out country. The effective interest rate on the nation’s three-year debt soared to more than 12% – signalling investor fears that Greece will not be able to repay its loans in the short term. Elections were called for 25 January after the government failed to find enough votes to elect its preferred candidate for president, the former European commissioner Stavros Dimas. With the vehemently anti-cuts Syriza opposition ahead in the polls, the campaign will now revive the debate about austerity policies across the eurozone and raise questions over the harsh terms attached to Greece’s €240bn (£188bn) bailouts.
With about a quarter of the ballots counted, the Syriza candidates for Athens and the province of Attica—where roughly 40% of the Greek population lives—staged a come-from-behind surge to secure a runoff against incumbents Mayor Giorgos Kaminis and regional prefect Ioannis Sgouros. In Athens, Mr. Kaminis was running roughly one percentage point ahead of challenger Gavriil Sakellaridis, while Rena Dourou, the Syriza candidate for provincial chief, was more than a percentage point ahead of Mr. Sgouros. Until a few days ago, both incumbents—who are identified with Greece’s socialist Pasok party—appeared to enjoy solid leads in their respective constituencies. This will be the first time New Democracy won’t even have a candidate in the second round in the Greek capital since 1975. “The first decisive step was taken today,” said Mr. Sakellaridis, promising an upset next week.
Elections for the European Parliament, to be held later next month, will give EU citizens an opportunity to have an impact on EU policies in the next five years. Elections will be held in all 28 member-countries on May 22-25, and 751 MEPs will be elected for a term of five years.Croatian citizens will elect 11 MEPs, one less than has been the case so far because the number of MEPs will be reduced from 766 to 751. They will, however, elect them for the first time for a full, five-year term.In the May 22-25 elections, close to 400 million EU voters will for the first time elect indirectly, through the European Parliament, a new President of the European Commission. European political parties have for the first time nominated their candidates for EC President so as to attract voters and, by involving them more directly, strengthen the political legitimacy of the EP and the EC. When nominating candidates for the post of EC President, the European Council will for the first time have to take into account election results. MEPs will appoint the new EC President by an absolute majority vote based on the European Council’s nomination, EP Secretary-General Klaus Welle has said.
Has the euro zone found some breathing room in its crisis? The conservative New Democracy (ND) party eked out a victory in Greece’s parliamentary elections on Sunday, edging out the leftist Syriza party, which is strongly opposed to the austerity measures imposed as part of the country’s bailout. The margin was less than 3 points. The victory, however, still leaves Greece without a government. ND failed to win an outright parliamentary majority and must join forces with at least one party to govern. The scenario is similar to the results of an earlier round of voting. ND also came in first in May 6 elections, again with Syriza running a close second, but failed to form a government then. Forming a government quickly is crucial because Greece could run out of cash to pay its bills as early as next month. It’s unclear which party might join ND in coalition. Greek media are speculating that the conservatives might join force with their traditional rival, the Socialist PASOK party, which came in a distant third on Sunday. Whether the results fully reflect the popular will is another question: nearly 38% of eligible voters abstained from voting — a much higher percentage than any party received.
Greeks head to the polls on Sunday for the second time in two months with a pervasive sense of dread that any government that comes to power will fail to resolve the political and economic turmoil that threatens the country’s future — and the financial stability of Europe itself. If the establishment center-right party New Democracy ekes out a victory in a race that polls show as tight, Greece still faces weeks or months of negotiations with European lenders over the terms of its austerity program, which all parties agree are too onerous to enforce on its rapidly shrinking economy. A victory by the leftist party Syriza promises a more serious confrontation, especially with Germany, over how — and perhaps whether — to keep Greece in the euro zone.
With polls due to open in less than 24 hours, leftwing Syriza and the conservative New Democracy party are level-pegging in the race to win the election in Greece. The vote is being seen as a crucial indicator for the country’s future within the eurozone. Syriza leader Alexis Tsipras is the most likely candidate for the next prime minister of Greece. Although his party does not want to abandon the single-currency, it does reject the harsh austerity that comes with accepting the 130 billion euro bailout the country desperately needs.
Nervous Greeks are withdrawing up to 800 million euros ($1.01 billion) a day and stocking up on canned food as they fear the country will be forced to leave the eurozone after this Sunday’s election. Greek citizens fear the ramifications of a return to the country’s previous currency, the drachma, if the radical left-wing party and strong election contender SYRIZA wins this weekend. Bankers said daily withdrawals from the major banks were hitting €500-€800 million ($631.8 million-$1.01 billion), Reuters reported. Meanwhile, retailers say consumers are stocking up on non-perishable foods like pasta and canned goods.
The final day of polling before the repeat election in Greece on June 17 showed the two main contenders neck and neck. The economic crisis has divided Greeks, who appear split on the causes and solutions to the country’s financial meltdown. The political stalemate only appears to be entrenching these divisions. Industrial disputes do not get much worse than this. The workers at the Hellenic Halyvourgia steel plant have been on strike for more than 200 days. Yorgos Sifonios is president of the workers’ union. He showed letters of solidarity from unions across the world. “The Union has undertaken collective action, which has roused the whole of Greece’s working class. Our strike has become a landmark, a model of how all workers must fight,” Sifonios said. The factory’s owner laid off 50 workers last year, blaming falling demand. The company declined an interview.
The Chinese curse, “May you live in interesting times”, might have been coined with the Greek people in mind. Not since the fall of the military junta in 1974 has there been such turmoil and uncertainty. It’s not physical turmoil (although there have been mild fisticuffs in my local bar) but conceptual, as voters prepare for the next elections on June 17th, following the totally inconclusive ballot last month. There is a series of dichotomies (after all, the Greeks invented the word). On one hand, in the bigger picture, is the right of the Greeks to self-determination; on the other are Greece’s international obligations, as members of the EU and debtors to the IMF. On one hand, many politicians and technocrats are saying Greece must be changed completely, while on the other Greek people want to go on being Greek. The greatest dilemma is the fact that Syriza (Radical Left) may well top the polls, having pushed Pasok into third place last month. Current predictions have Syriza at 27-30 per cent, with New Democracy (ND) on 23-27 per cent and Pasok limping badly on 12-15 per cent. Topping the poll on 30 per cent would give Syriza 90 seats, plus a bonus of 50 – a total of 140, just 11 seats short of an overall majority. Syriza’s leader, Alexis Tsipras, the new kid on the block, wants to repudiate Greece’s debts, reverse the austerity measures and nationalise the banks, yet – and here’s another dichotomy – he wants to stay in the euro, which might be fiscally impossible.