Leftwing party falls short of a majority in Parliament; Independent Greeks (ANEL) possible coalitions partner.
Athens.- Greek leftist leader Alexis Tsipras promised on Sunday that five years of austerity, “humiliation and suffering” imposed by international creditors were over after his Syriza party swept to victory in a snap election on Sunday.
With about 90 percent of votes counted, Syriza was set to win 149 seats – 2 short for a parliamentary majority in the 300 seat parliament – with 36.2 percent of the vote, around eight points ahead of the conservative New Democracy party of Prime Minister Antonis Samaras.
The leader of Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) Alexis Tsipras, will meet with Independent Greeks (ANEL) president Panos Kammenos at the offices of SYRIZA, at 10:30 on Monday to discuss the possibility and the terms of a coalitions government.
With 90% of the votes counted:
SYRIZA: 36.32%, 149 seats
New Democracy: 27.86%, 76 seats
Golden Dawn: 6.31%, 17 seats
Potami: 6.03%, 17 seats
KKE: 5.47%, 15 seats
PASOK: 4.72%, 13 seats
ANEL: 4.69%, 13 seats
Kinima: 2.44%, 0 seats
While a final result may not come for hours, the 40-year-old Tsipras is on course to become prime minister of the first euro zone government openly opposed to the kind of crippling austerity policies which the European Union and International Monetary Fund imposed on Greece as a condition of its bailout.
With Greece’s economy unlikely to recover for years, he faces enormous problems and his victory raises the prospect of tough negotiations with European partners including German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
As thousands of flag-waving supporters hit the streets of Athens, some shedding tears of joy, Germany’s Bundesbank warned Greece it needed reform to tackle its economic problems and the euro fell nearly half a U.S. cent.
Tsipras has promised to keep Greece in the euro and has toned down some of his rhetoric but his arrival in power would mark the biggest challenge to the approach adopted to the crisis by euro zone governments.
“We are delighted,” said 47-year-old teacher Efi Avgoustakou. “We hope our expectations will be fulfilled,” she said. “On Monday in class, we’re not allowed to comment and take sides but we will be smiling.”
With Greece’s bailout deal with the euro zone due to end on Feb. 28, Tsipras’ immediate challenge will be to settle doubts over the next instalment of more than 7 billion euros in international aid. EU finance ministers are due to discuss the issue in Brussels on Monday.
Financial markets have been worried a Syriza victory will trigger a new financial crisis in Greece, but the repercussions for the euro zone are expected to be far smaller than feared the last time Greeks went to the polls in 2012.
“Today the Greek people have written history, hope has written history,” Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) leader Alexis Tsipras stressed on Sunday, addressing crowds of people gathered at the Propylaea of the Athens University in central Athens, after SYRIZA’s victory in the Greek elections.
“The sovereign Greek people today gave a clear, strong, indisputable mandate. Greece is starting on a new page. Greece is leaving behind it the austerity of destruction, leaving behind it the fear and autocracy. It is leaving behind it five years of humiliation and pain. And Greece is moving forward with optimism, hope, dignity and a firm step toward a Europe that is changing. And SYRIZA, you and SYRIZA, our people are a characteristic example of this changing Europe. Our people who took this step and Greece, which took a step in history, a step forward, a step to meet the other peoples of Europe.
“Today we have a celebration, a fete. From tomorrow we begin hard work. The people’s verdict ends in an indisputable way the vicious circle of austerity in our country. The verdict of the Greek people, your verdict, cancels today in an indisputable way the memorandums of austerity and destruction. The verdict of the Greek people now makes the troika a thing of the past for our joint European framework.”
“We are fully aware that the Greek people have not today given us a ‘carte blanche’ but have given us a mandate for national revival and for restoring social cohesion with our party. We will make us of this trust and form a government of all Greek men and women. We will place our faith in every Greek woman and every Greek man individually, regardless of whether they did or did not vote for us. We will all fight together to rebuild our country on new, firm and fair foundations of justice and prosperity.
“Today, my friends, citizens of Athens, I address every Greek man and woman that is watching us now. Today there are no winners and losers. Defeated today was the Greece of the elite, the Greece of the oligarchs, the Greece of antidemocratic deviation, the Greece of misappropriation and cover-ups. If anyone won today it was the Greece of toil, the Greece of labour, the Greece of knowledge, the Greek of creativity, the Greece of culture. If someone won today it is the Greece that struggles, the Greece that hopes, which asks for the space and time to against create a future with dignity.”
“Friends, I want to warmly thank all of you. But primarily I want to thank all those, and they are thousands, in every corner of Europe, who have come here and the foreign delegations, for this unprecedented wave of support and solidarity toward the Greek people that is coming from every corner of Europe. Our victory is at the same time a victory of all the peoples of Europe who are fighting against austerity that is destroying our common European future.
“Guided by the common interest of all the peoples of Europe, I want to assure you: the new Greek government is ready to cooperate and to negotiate for the first time with our partners a fair, mutually beneficial and viable solution so that Greece can exit the vicious circle of excessive debt, so that Europe can return to stability, growth, social cohesion, the values and principles that were its founding values and principles, such as democracy and solidarity.
“In this sincere dialogue, in this substantive negotiation, Greece, I want to assure you, will come with its own factually-supported proposals, with its own national plan of reforms and radical changes, with its own four-year fiscal policy plan without new deficits but also without the unrealistic and unattainable surpluses, with its own proposals for the debt, its own plan for investments and the productive reconstruction of the country.
“Friends, the new Greek government will prove wrong the ‘Cassandras’ within and outside the country. There will neither be a mutually destructive confrontation nor will a continuation of the submission be tolerated. We have before us a great opportunity for a new start in Greece and Europe. For a new policy, for a new model for relations based on trust, mutual respect, solidarity and responsibility.
“Friends, our priority from the very next day will be to tackle the great wounds of the crisis. It is to restore the people’s sovereignty in our country. It is to deliver justice. It is a break with the establishment and pathogenic phenomena of decades; a break with the regime of intertwined interests and corruption; the promotion of sweeping democratic reforms to the state, public administration, everywhere. Our priority above all, however, is for the country and our people to once again regain their lost dignity. This is the message of this victory of our people today. We are winning back hope, we are winning back our smile, we are winning back optimism, we are winning back the lost dignity of our people.
“I want to thank all of you, from one end of Greece to the other, who fought this wonderful fight. You fought it with self-confidence, with passion, with optimism. You took hope in your hands and raised it high. You defeated fear. You brought back the smile of every Greek man and woman. And I call on you at this historic moment and now, when everyone in all of Europe and the world is listening to us, to give the assurance and the promise that we will fight with the same passion, the same self-confidence. Forward to continue this great, difficult beautiful fight. Forward to raise the sun over Greece. Let us raise the sun of justice, the sun of justice, the sun of democracy, the sun of dignity. We will succeed. We will go forward together and we will succeed.
The Greek people had spoken and we all respect their decision, outgoing Prime Minister Antonis Samaras said on Sunday, in statements at Zappion building press centre after his party’s defeat in the Greek national elections.
“Deeply moved, I thank from my heart all the women and men that stood beside us in this difficult race. I want them to feel proud of this battle that we waged together, just as I feel very proud of them. “The Greek people have spoken and we all respect their decision,” he said.
“My conscience is clear. I took over a country on the verge of disaster. I was asked to hold ‘lit coals’ in my hands and I did it. Most gave us few prospects of lasting. But we withstood. We averted the worst. We pulled the country out of the deficits, out of the recession, we restored the credibility and the standing of our country, we laid the foundations for growth and for a final exit from the crisis.
“In the last two and half years, we created a new tradition of consensus and coalition governments, unknown in Greece. Greece needs bold consensuses and we dared [to do this]. We were obliged to take painful measures. And there were some mistakes and injustices. But we averted much worse things.
“So, today, I hand over a country without deficits, with security for the citizen, with firm support in the world and in our region. A country that is making an orderly exit from the crisis. Above all, I hand over a country that is a member of the European Union and the euro. For the good of this country, I hope that the next government preserves these gains. I have a clear conscience because I told the people the truth right to the end. I honestly hope that my predictions are not proved true. Because it is Greece we are talking about. But I had an obligation to give a warning.”
“The election result is not pleasant for us. But it showed that ND stood firm, that ND is on its feet. Despite the very difficult but unavoidable measures we were forced to take, in two and half years ND appears to have lost only two points in relation to the elections in 2012. And it remains ready to play a decisive role in developments from here on forward, as a guarantor of the country’s European course, of stability, security and the reforms that must progress. ND’s role in upcoming developments will be crucial, I guarantee that it will play this role to the utmost,” he said.
The leader of Potami, Stavros Theodorakis, said on Sunday his party managed to enter Parliament without money and without agreements with vested interests and unions.
“Today, Potami is the third democratic power in the country. This is a victory of society. Without money, without protectors, without agreements with vested interests and unions, we achieved the unachievable: to enter Parliament with 16 lawmakers,” Theodorakis told journalists, commenting on the electoral results of his party.
The leader of Potami expressed his gratitude towards his volunteers, saying: “We won’t betray you” and noted that their vote was not a vote of anger, but a vote of logic and courage.
He went on to congratulate SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras for his great victory and said Potami expects him to meet his responsibilities.
“But this is no time for celebrations,” he added. “The country needs to strengthen its position in Europe, heal its wounds and enter a path of growth. We need big changes and wide social alliances. Greece will not change just because a party will have, if it has them, 151 lawmakers. We need large majorities and a patriotic action plan.”
Theodorakis described as a “bad sign” the smaller participation in this year’s election compared to 2012 and especially the higher percentage of votes received by Golden Dawn, saying that at some point we will have to seek the real reason why half a million Greeks decided to vote in a reactionary way at this crucial time.
The leader of Potami finally noted that his party will be “present” on Monday to say “yes” when it agrees and “no” when the country is at risk, offering specific solutions.
The national election results express “the great discontent and anger of our people for the New Democracy and PASOK parties that sank the country into poverty and unemployment all these years of the economic crisis,” Communist Party of Greece Secretary General Dimitris Koutsoumbas said on Sunday night.
His party came in fifth, with 5.45 percent (at 65 percent of the votes counted), which corresponds to 15 seats in Parliament.
The result, he said, “also expresses, to a great degree, the false hope that the new government of the Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) can follow a people-friendly policy,” Koutsoumbas said, and made particular mention of people who decided to vote for the KKE for the first time.
“KKE believed and still believes that the Parliament’s new composition and the formation of a SYRIZA government – whether by itself or by collaboration, and based on official statements and stances during and before the campaign period – will move along the same lines of an exclusively European path, of reduced demands, retreats and compromises and commitments to large capital, monopolies, the EU and NATO – with whatever that means for our people and homeland,” Koutsoumbas said, adding that “it’s the working class that will pay for that, once again.”
Koutsoumbas also commented on extreme-right Golden Dawn (Chryssi Avgi) coming in third, in votes, calling it “an extremely negative development in that a Nazi-friendly party, with specific criminal murderous actions over several years, created by the same mechanisms of the system that fight the interests of the people, still retains significant percentages in the electorate.”
“The KKE will intensify its efforts and initiatives in sharply rising labour, popular issues, through proposals to relieve the unemployed, working-class families, the self-employed, farmers and students,” the party leader said. “In and out of Parliament, with the power granted us by the people, we will fight to reveal to the people any antipopular measures that are being planned,” he pledged.
The time has come for Greece to be led to prosperity, production, dignity and progress, Independent Greeks (ANEL) leader Panos Kammenos said at Zappio Hall press centre late on Sunday, and dedicated his party’s electoral results to “the pollsters who up to this morning hit on us mercilessly.”
ANEL received 4.70 percent of the vote (with 70.45 percent of the votes counted), giving him 13 seats in Parliament.
In his statements Kammenos said he had contacted Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) leader Alexis Tsipras to congratulate him. ANEL, he said, will help so that “this new social and political reality is stabilised for the good of the country, the nation and the Greek people.”
“I contacted Mr. Tsipras, congratulated him on his victory and said that the Independent Greeks, as we had said from the first moment, will support the change of the political scene in our country, based on the principles that we have publicly stated,” he said.
Kammenos said the time had come “to rebuild what was destroyed by the memorandums and to free Greece from the chains of subjugation. Today is a time of responsibility for all Greeks, regardless of ideological and political beliefs.” It is time for all Greeks to come together, as the electoral results create a new social and political reality.
In press statements later, from his party’s office, Kammenos said he would be meeting with Tsipras on Monday. Ruling out collaboration with To Potami, he said, “We are not going to work with a government that includes To Potami.”
PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos congratulated Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) leader Alexis Tsipras for his electoral victory on Sunday wishing him success, and blamed newly-founded Movement of Democratic Socialists (Kinima) leader George Papandreou for undermining PASOK and costing it its failure to place third in elections.
PASOK came in seventh, with over 50 percent of the overall votes counted.
Venizelos expressed disappointment over the low vote tally for PASOK and blamed former prime minister Papandreou with the rise of extreme-right Golden Dawn (Chryssi Avgi) to third place.
SYRIZA has a right to celebrate its victory, Veniezelos said, and expressed the certainty that Tsipras understood the huge responsibilities he will shoulder. “In our era, the artificial majority of seats and votes is not enough; social and political agreement is also needed,” Venizelos said.
He also noted that in June 2012, PASOK’s political proposal, to which coalition partners New Democracy and Democratic Left (DIMAR) had agreed, had collected 47 percent of the votes, but came up against the stubborn lack of agreement.
PASOK with the Democratic Wing got a percentage that “does not satisfy us at all, compared to the effort we expanded and the truths we said during the campaign period,” the outgoing government Vice-President and Foreign Minister said. “We held on, as long as the Greek people wanted, before the incessant demagoguery of danger-mongering and the relaxing of vigilance and easy promises, artificial polarisation and strong waves of opportunism.”
He also charged Papandreou, whose father Andreas had founded the party, with breaking up the party’s unity “for a caprice, for some personal fixations that both PASOK and the country paid for dearly.” For Golden Dawn’s coming in third, “the responsibility lies with George Papandreou,” he asserted.
PASOK spoke the truth, he said, and that is now “our political heritage, the springboard for the party’s new historic phase.” Its position is easier now compared to the tremendous weight it had been lifting the last five years, Venizelos said and expressed the hope that the people will now start to see PASOK under a more favourable light.
He said that in his political career he had assumed for national and party reasons large responsibilities that were not his personally. “In the main, I now fully assume the responsibility alloted to me” and said he was greatly honoured to have taken part in the front lines of his generation’s war to prevent Greece’s destruction.
Now PASOK is moving ahead in orderly fashion and without any delays to a congress of radical renewal, unity, rallying of the wider area, with all issues remaining open to discussions, including the issue of party leadership.
The congress, he said, will deal “with the party itself and not with other formations or factors that try to influence poor PASOK from outside, since they undermined it mercilessly from within, then they abandoned it and remain unrepentant.” However, the congress did not mean the party’s future turn to introversion, as the country and its problems remain a priority and there is no time to lose. “We want things to go better for the country, even if others take the political credit for it, but we will not let things go worse,” he said.
Extreme-right Golden Dawn (Chryssi Avgi) leader Nikos Michaloliakos hailed what he called “the great victory of the nationalist movement” after national election results showed his party came in third (with 40 percent of the votes counted) late on Sunday.
The jailed party leader said that it is the second time his party comes in third, including the Europarliament elections in May 2014, “and this while I and fellow fighters and deputies and other GD officers have been illegally and unfairly in jail for the past year and a half.”
“We have a fresh popular mandate to be in Parliament, and we will represent the Greek people, and that not from jail,” he added.