36 percent of Greeks voted for Syriza, the radical left wing party that’s taken control of the country’s parliament, with party leader Alex Tsipras as the nation’s new prime minister. The parliamentary elections took place on January 25 and ushered in a new era of financial and governmental reform. Without an outright majority of the votes, Syriza formed a coalition with the Independent party (ANEL), fulfilling Tspiras’s promise for greater political unity.
The new government has also promised an end to austerity, the strict financial measures demanded by the troika (the European Commission, the European Central Bank, and the International Monetary Fund) in exchange for the 240 billion euro bailout that ultimately led not to economic resurgence but a six-year recession. The people resented the bailout and the slew of layoffs they perceived as unfair and absurd, especially since these austerity measures left no one better off. Syriza and Tspiras inherit and unemployment greater than 25% and a nation ready for change. With its many promises to upend the unpopular austerity measures, the party has been lauded as the people’s movement, yet it remains to be seen whether they can deliver.
Leaders of countries within the Eurozone wait with baited breath for the aftermath of Tspiras’s risky promises. Greek’s current aid program runs out at the end of February and the country is hoping for a debt reduction. However the Germans, who insisted the troika impose the austerity measures in the first place, threaten to have the central banks cut off its support for Greece if the country refuses to pay back all its debt in full. This would impact not only Greece but also the entire European Union and its 60-year quest for peace and prosperity. It’s a game of chicken, triggered by the recent Greek election and played out on an international scale.