Greece has been at the center of global attention for a long time. Having been hit the hardest by the economic crisis of 2008 and seemingly incapable of showing any meaningful signs of recovery, it is often seen as Europe’s spoiled child—a bad pimple on the world’s arse. Even more, the January 25 elections provided fodder for speculation as to what would happen to the Greece, its place in the Eurozone, and the world economy if the radical left-wing party Syriza, with its anti-austerity rhetoric and debt-renegotiation commitment, were to win. I’m sure many of you are wondering what is going on now that it has.
For starters, Syriza’s electoral victory was not as wide as its members may have wanted. Of the 151 parliament seats needed to achieve a stable majority, it got 149, which led to the formation of a coalition government. Of all the possible parties, Syriza’s leader Alexis Tsipras chose to collaborate with the Independent Greeks (ANEL), thus creating a singular, political surrealism: a radical left/far right government.
The only issue on which the two parties officially agree is their common distaste for the austerity program and the associated reforms prescribed by the country’s creditors. This peculiar alliance raises numerous questions at home and abroad, from the country’s economic course to the social policies that can possibly be introduced by two parties with completely opposite stances. Another issue with a dubious future is the country’s international affairs.
In order to better explain that last bit, we need to make clear that Syriza is not a single party. It is the coalition of several leftist movements that have been unified for the sake of the electoral bonus of 50 parliament seats in case of victory. The governing majority of Syriza, represented by Mr. Tsipras, can be described as euro-socialist, with relatively progressive, “West-friendly” views. But there are also more radical members—euro-separatists and communists.