The general elections in Greece on Sunday returned the conservative New Democracy party to power in a landslide victory, ending the four-year coalition government led by the leftwing Syriza party of prime minister Alexis Tsipras. Syriza, once an outsider radical-left party, first gained power in January 2015 when Greece was socially and economically devastated by six years of a financial crisis that centred on the country’s snowballing debts, and which led to brutal and humiliating bailout conditions imposed by international institutions, chiefly the eurozone group and the IMF. At the time, Mediapart travelled to Greece to dress the portraits of nine men and women differently affected by the crisis, and in May this year, shortly before Tsipras called the snap general elections, returned to ask them about their current situations and how they judged the four-year term of the Syriza government. Their accounts here offer an insight into Sunday’s election result and the turnout of just under 60%, the second-lowest of any Greek general election.
The British 'no' vote in the referendum on the European Union marks the victory of the extreme right, represented by the repugnant Nigel Farage and his UKIP party. In that sense it is a tragedy. But this 'no' vote also signs the death warrant of a European Union that has turned away from its citizens. Now the whole European project needs to be rebuilt and Mediapart's editor François Bonnet wonders whether that isn't good news...
In this interview with Mediapart, a senior advisor to the Greek government, who has been at the heart of the past five months of negotiations between Athens and its international creditors, reveals the details of what resembles a game of liar’s dice over the fate of a nation that has been brought to its economic and social knees. His account gives a rare and disturbing insight into the process which has led up to this week’s make-or-break deadline for reaching a bailout deal between Greece and international lenders, without which the country faces crashing out of the euro and complete bankruptcy. He describes the extraordinary bullying of Greece’s radical-left government by the creditors, including Eurogroup president Jeroen Dijsselbloem’s direct threat to cause the collapse of the Hellenic banks if it failed to sign-up to a drastic austerity programme. “We went into a war thinking we had the same weapons as them”, he says. “We underestimated their power”.
Sections of the Left in France greeted Syriza's triumph in the Greek elections on Sunday with great enthusiasm, with some hailing it as an “historic moment”. But the success of the Greek party, which unites various left-wing groups, has also highlighted the continuing divisions on the Left in France and its own failure to create a lasting electoral coalition. At the same time the challenges facing the new Syriza government, which is seeking to end austerity and renegotiate its debt burden with the EU and international bodies, underline the problems facing any left-wing administration in Europe. A key question is whether France's own socialist president, François Hollande, will now seize the opportunity to change economic direction and push the EU and Germany to back more growth-oriented policies. First, Mediapart's Stéphane Alliès, in Paris, examines how the French Left will react to the Greek results, then Brussels correspondent Ludovic Lamant wonders whether any truly left-wing policies can be carried out by national governments under current eurozone rules.
Alexis Tsipras (pictured) is the leader of the Greek parliamentary radical-left coalition group Syriza. Following the collapse in support for the former governing Greek socialist party Pasok, vilified by its electorate for its unpopular austerity measures introduced amid the Greek debt crisis, the coalition is now facing its greatest electoral challenge - and opportunity - since it was founded in 2004. In this interview with Amélie Poinssot, Tsipras details his alternative vision of how Greece can emerge from the crisis, but also the problems posed by a legacy of division among the country's parties of the Left.
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