Syriza Wins Big, Forms Government

Get ready for some austerian hysteria and German bluster.

The leftist Syriza coalition won decisively in yesterday’s Greek elections, winning 36% of the vote among a large range of party options, and falling just two parliamentary seats short of an outright majority. Its leaders quickly formed a coalition with a right wing anti-austerian grouping, the Independent Greeks Party. The immediate consequences are discussed by the Guardian‘s Jon Henley:

[Alexis] Tsipras, 40, is set to become Greece’s youngest prime minister. He will head the eurozone’s first government to openly oppose the draconian bailout conditions imposed by the European Union and International Monetary Fund, and also wants the writing off of at least half Greece’s mammoth €318bn (£238bn) debt mountain.

The landmark election result, the first time since the 1970s that neither the centre-left Pasok nor the conservative New Democracy has been returned to power, could set Athens on course for an imminent collision with international lenders, EU institutions and with Berlin, where the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, has so far steadfastly refused to let up on demands for draconian belt-tightening and structural reforms by the bloc’s weaker economies.

Syriza’s financial planning official, Giorgos Stathakis, said the new government had no plans to meet with negotiators from the “troika” of the European Central Bank, the European Commission and the IMF, and would instead seek talks directly with governments….

Europe’s finance ministers were scheduled to meet on Monday for their first chance to discuss Syriza’s sweeping victory. The euro briefly sank to an 11-year low against the dollar and stock markets fell amid fears that Greece’s massive €240bn bailout could be in doubt and the battered country may be forced out of the eurozone.

“Greece leaves behind catastrophic austerity, it leaves behind fear and authoritarianism, it leaves behind five years of humiliation and suffering,” Tsipras told thousands of cheering, flag-waving supporters gathered in Klafthmonos Square in central Athens on Sunday night.

Before you read any negative profiles of Tsipras as a godless Marxist revolutionary who wants to ruin Europe, check out the interview Washington Monthly editor in chief Paul Glastris conducted with him in 2013. Here’s a provocative nugget that reflects what we may here from Tsipras when German bankers get self-righteous about full and strict repayment of loans to Greece with all the ruinous conditions attached:

Back in 1953, under the London Debt Agreement, America asked European countries, including Greece, to agree to write off 60 percent of Germany’s debts from World War II and to put a moratorium on debt repayments. That was accepted as a solution. What we are asking from Germany is basically the same.

Yeah, the next few days in Europe are going to be interesting.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.