Greeks vote in “make-or-break” poll
After five years of recession and austerity, the people of Greece have headed to the polls to decide on the future of their country.
Syriza leader Alexis Tsipras casts his vote in today’s elections
The elections are expected to bring into power the radical left-wing Syriza party, which has vowed to renegotiate the terms of Greece’s massive international bailout and to reverse austerity measures.
Syriza currently hold a comfortable lead of four to seven percentage points over their incumbent rivals, the conservative New Democracy.
The radical left party are already reported to have secured between 31 and 34 per cent of the electorate, made up by an estimated 9.8 million Greeks; a suggestion that voters are no longer willing to accept the political status quo.
Syriza leader, Alexis Tsipras, claims that the election is the “last step of the Greek people towards regaining social cohesion and dignity”.
As he voted this morning, Tsipras declared: “In Greece, democracy will return.”
He continued: “The message is that our common future in Europe is not the future of austerity.”
Meanwhile Tsipras’ opponent, prime minister Antonio Samaras, warned that victory for Syriza would bring about dangerous uncertainty.
Samaras commented: “Today we are deciding if we move ahead with power, safety and confidence or if we get into an adventure.”
Labelled by The Guardian as a “barnstorming alliance of Maoists, Marxists, Trotskyists, Socialists and Greens”, Tsipras’ party has threatened to “tear up” the requirements of Greece’s €240 billion international bailout.
Economists have warned that a tough approach to negotiations with Europe could force a Syriza-controlled Greece out of the Eurozone.
Since 2009, Greece’s GDP has decreased by a quarter and unemployment has reached 26 per cent.
3.1 million people have lost their health insurances and 18 per cent of the population can no longer afford living essentials.
Alongside Syriza’s rise come fears that their success will mark a boost in support for other European populist parties, such as the Five Star Movement in Italy or Spain’s Podemos Movement.
Some have warned that an increase in support for radical movements might lead to growth at the opposite end of the spectrum; Marine le Pen, leader of France’s National Front, expressed support for Syriza in spite of their opposed political leanings.
In Greece, the Nazi-inspired Golden Dawn movement threatens to become the third-largest party in the country, despite several of its 18 MPs facing jail under the charge of being members of a criminal organisation.
Greece’s polls have now closed and definitive results are expected in the early hours of tomorrow.
Thomas Rhys Jones