Greece elections: Who are Syriza and what effect will their new government have on Europe?

Greece has a new government today as election victors Syriza thrash out a coalition deal with the right-wing Independent Greeks.

Who are Syriza?

A Greek political party formed in 2004 as a coalition of radical left-wing groups, ranging from Greens to former Communists. Syriza’s popularity exploded after the collapse of Greece’s economy in 2010 and onerous terms were attached to the country’s bailout by the “Troika” of the European Union, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund. The party, which is led by 40 year-old Alexis Tsipras, came very close to taking power in 2012’s general election. And now, three years on, it has succeeded. Syriza become the biggest party in the Greek parliament and will form a governing coalition with the right-wing Independent Greeks party.

  • The Greeks will regret this election. Really lacking in wisdom on their part.

    • winniec

      Totally right, Avi.
      I see huge riots, destruction of property of decent people, looting, shootings. There’s no money tree for the Greeks, alas. This is pure GREEK MYTHOLOGY! The gods of financial Olympus will destroy them. Get ready for boatloads of Greek economic refugees and ads for charities on TV.

      • Mythology, yes. I hope for them that things work out well.

    • Frau Katze

      I was reading the comments at a Financial Times article on it (they tend to have some good commenters). There was a range of responses. The real question is how extreme will they be?

      There were comparisons to Hugo Chavez, but Greece is totally broke, and Chavez would have gone nowhere without the oil money, Chavez wrecked the country.

      Syriza has fewer options, basically do they stay with the Euro or leave?

      • I am no expert in economics or politics. My comment was only based on commonsense – a debtor cannot simply refuse to pay up. Even if his debt is forgiven, his reputation is lost, and he will not have much credit thereafter. Thus for an individual, similarly for a nation.

        Yes, as you say how extreme will they be? The more extreme the worse outcome for them. Pity, I was in Greece 2-3 years ago, and enjoyed it greatly. The Greeks seem like nice people and they have many tourist assets. I do not understand how they got into this situation.

        • PapayaSF

          They got into this via a generous welfare state, but they ran out of other people’s money. E.g. a retirement age of 55, or 50 if your work is deemed “hazardous.” That originally meant jobs like firefighter and coal miner, but various groups weaseled themselves into that category over time. So now people who work in nail salons retire at 50 because of “chemical exposure,” radio and TV announcers because of the dangers of bacteria on microphones(!), etc.

      • MRHapla

        It seems their big move is to ignore the problem, situation, pretend all is groovy, then beg for help.

    • BillyHW

      Leftism is a denial of reality.

    • MRHapla

      The Greeks don’t seem to regret the previous decades of screw ups.

      Wisdom ran out when the Commies took root.

  • Billy Bob Thornton

    Syriza is not radical left. They are not proposing massive nationalization, worker cooperatives, worker democratization of workplaces and major anti-globalism. They seem like a run of the mill social democratic party that wants to use left wing populism and why I always so populism is useless unless you have the strong policies to back them and you have to challenge the mainstream institutions which are fueled by debt.

    Don’t forget that Merkel wants southern Europe to submit to Germany.

    Germany has nothing to lose.

    I think it is a great idea to renegotiate the debt, pay for it over the long term and find ways to help the average person.

    Don’t forget who lost. The Conservative and the Social Democrats in the coalition they had was thoroughly defeated. That proves they were the challengers and thus unemployment remained high. Papandreou was the last leader that worked with Goldman Sachs to screw over their nation. Some on the hard right like to claim it was the unions but no the financial crisis impacted all of Europe. Remember in globalism when we have all economies interlinked that means that all economies are impacted.

    Also, the mainstream and their supporters here in Canada like to claim that debts can only be brought down with cuts like a family budget. They cannot. You have to also provide structural changes. Argentina used a bond currency back in 2001. Russia used state currencies during the 90’s. How else did Russia get such a low debt to GDP ratio? There was also Iceland who punished the perpetrators and in 2009 went in the nationalist direction. The mainstream and SNN and frankly all parties beholden to the mainstream order never talk about this. They think there is only one way to fix and remove debt and to restructure.

    Frankly, I support parties against the mainstream, against the IMF debt order and against aggression and yes Europe I believe is headed for more of this. People can hate on the left wing, far-left, far-right and nationalist right wing but yes they are the future and fiat currencies will hopefully be a thing of the past. Build societies I say that work for all or else we are all destined to be servants.

    • Billy Bob Thornton

      This isn’t even socialism. The Communists in Greece the KKE are saying they are traitors and the coalition just in the past few hours proves they are still pro-European.

  • Billy Bob Thornton

    People also have to realize in the international term known as odious debt.

    If the people did not agree on it, then the people don’t and the society doesn’t have to pay that debt. It was foisted on the nation and thus the leadership leading Greece at the time was working against the average Greek citizen.

    That is why corporatism doesn’t work.

    On the other hand, you need societies that work for people and not profit.

    Which is why libertarianism will never work. People have to be moral and just when that is simply not possible. Which is why the synonym of libertarianism is anarchism. You will as a result put too much faith in people. That is why deregulation also fails.

    • Billy Bob Thornton

      Nationalism is the direction I hope Europe will take.

    • Exile1981

      The problem with Odious debt is that so far only two times has it been successfully used as a way to get a country out of debt and both times there was very clear evidence that the funds borrowed by the nation actually went into the personal pockets of the leaders of the country. In Greece’s case they borrowed the money to pay welfare and old age pensions they could not afford; so technically that makes it that the money was used on the citizens and so Odious debt would not be usable as a way out.

      Now I’m not saying you couldn’t by going line by line through the debt and books figure out that some would classify as Odious and therefore belong to the individuals who borrowed it rather than the nation in whose name they borrowed it. I just think in Greece’s case it would be significantly smaller than the 80%+ that was written off that way by the african country that set the precedent.

  • ntt1

    A drowning country clutching at straws, the money has gone so communism which has never worked, will not even be able to buy a honeymoon period. Expect tough love from the EU.

  • Stronger Than Dirt

    Greece will not recover.

  • Billy Bob Thornton

    Austerity was also a failed experiment from the get-go.

    Greece was the guinea pig.

    The mentality of using a national budget as a family budget was the wrong premise and forcing people to live a certain life by force is dictatorship.

    These mainstream parties have to either change drastically or they will have to suffer in the job markets which frankly are not doing well in the whole Western world.

    China and Russia seem to be the future and the West fails to understand how Russia got out of their massive debt after 1991.

    People seem to believe that our left/right dichotomy is somehow the model when Russia, China and Iran and others seem to be smarter on that front. Maybe we should borrow what they have used?

  • simus1

    The Party of Leftist Thieves will form a coalition government with the Thieving Radicals Party.
    Stupid voters with childlike reasoning can always be counted on to vote in charlatans promising the moon while throwing away whatever gains have been made by years of unpopular sacrifice. It is the norm. Then they will be puzzled as exiting the Euro which they should never have joined in the first place instantly results in 200% inflation and reduces them to beggars.

  • Maxsteele

    The Greeks have just f*ucked themselves even more. The Greek populace voting is akin to an autoimmune disease where your immune system starts to attack itself. I thought we had uneducated voters here but good lord the Europeans are lost with the Greeks lost for good. When I speak to Greek friends here in Canada it is like they are stuck in 3 BC, still boasting about ancient Greek civilization. Get over it and move on to the real world. The EU is going to eat itself from within and hopefully it happens sooner than later because if it happens in more than 10 years it will be the Jihadists that are there to pick up the pieces.

  • BillyHW

    What exactly are these socialists thinking? They’ve already run out of other people’s money.

    • Billy Bob Thornton

      A national economy should not be ran as a family budget but as a way to generate wealth and build wealth distribution schemes to make the society wealthier. Frankly, the mainstream is not working and being judgmental to justify one’s own ideology shows how narrow-minded people in the mainstream truly are. No wonder Europe is rejecting neoliberalism soon to come to Canada and the US and Australia, the UK and New Zealand. The Anglosphere is always last to figure these things out.

  • Jay Currie

    So my boys were asking me last night, “what do the Greeks make?” Without going to Google I got Retina, olive oil, feta cheese, tourism, shipping moguls… Anything else?

    • simus1

      “Excellent entrepreneurs once they get out of Greece.”

  • Billy Bob Thornton

    Of course the US is the greatest debtor nation in the history of humanity and they have never experimented with socialism in their history but they sure do know what capitalism is. I mean they are in extreme capitalism aka fascism right now. Many on here have to acknowledge that capitalism creates fascism so easily due to greed and debt is all Western societies know by following the US capitalist model when state capitalism during the 70’s pre-neoliberalism worked. Why it was abandoned I will never know!

  • Norman_In_New_York

    If the Greeks exit the Eurozone or even roil the dogmatic complacency of the EU, they will have accomplished something useful. The EU could use a wake up call.

  • Leftist rhetoric sounds great.

    Sorry Greece. You are broke. Your liberals have already spent you into the poor house. Voting these clowns into office only assures disaster.

    Get ready for the collapse and riots. It won’t take long.

    Good luck.

    • Exile1981

      They voted the far left party into power on the basis of their promise to make the austerity measures go away and to force the EU to accept their continued reckless spending. Their other primary promise was to hire back all the government workers let go as a cost cutting measure and to give them back pay for the 3 years they didn’t work.

      • Leftists rhetoric – sounds great – out of touch with reality.

  • Exile1981

    Given that the coalition is based on only 1 item – hatred of the EU forcing the austerity and financial controls down Greece’s throats by Germany; I do not see this government staying together long. the other side of this monstrosity of a coalition is the far right anti immigration party. They want to increase business and drive out the foreigners and dump the illegals back at sea rather than having to accept them into Greece and they want out of the Eurozone. The Syriza are a pro-immigrant, bigger government party that wants to stay in the EU but expects they can dictate to Germany.

  • Petr

    Congratulations to Greece, enjoy your commie party end the resulting poverty (that will come as sure as sunrise).
    Thank you for doing your part in breaking apart the EU.

  • DMB

    Greece will be the new Venezuela.

    • Jay Currie

      Er, no oil…

      • DMB

        With plummeting oil prices will it really matter!

    • Minicapt

      More like Cuba?