long-anticipated, Syriza’s victory in Sunday’s Greek general election
represents a mini-electoral earthquake which has further divided European
are split on the implications: some factions see a great awakening, some a
useful pressure point against Angela Merkel’s Europe, others either fear ‘Pasokification’
(the annihilation process that saw Greece’s centre-left Pasok party fall from
43.9 per cent in 2009 to 4.7 per cent last weekend) or a dangerous injection of
wishful thinking at a time for hard truths.
Renzi in Italy and François Hollande in France were among the first callers to
Alexis Tsiparis. Terrified by Podemos, Pedro Sanchez in Spain moved further in
support of easing Greece's burden. In contrast, the German SPD and others
further north gave veiled warnings and rejected a haircut on
debt. Some simply avoided commenting on the meaning of the result
As Yannis Palaiologos sets
out in our Greek feature, if Syriza manage to get concessions from the troika –
be it on investment, interest rates or debt maturation – it will celebrate it
as a first victory. Moreover, it will strengthen those advocating a Syriza-like
appeal in austerity-hit, economically stagnant countries far beyond Greece’s
as Palaiologos argues, Syriza does not hold all the cards. Tsipras must now
shift from a campaigning to governing mode. If he is to achieve the debt relief
his government has promised, he needs allies. Hollande and Renzi will be key.
But as each works to drive through sometimes painful structural reform at home,
neither is likely to be willing to give Syriza a free pass and allow Tsipras to
shrink from this challenge simply because it may unsettle some of the vested
interests that helped bring him to power.
Britain, a country edging towards its own election in May, Labour’s chances of
winning a majority, reports Hopi Sen, are under
threat from a rise in support for the ‘outside left’, principally in the form
of the Scottish National party and Greens. Coupled with the United Kingdom
Independence party’s attempt to peel off traditionally Labour-inclined white
working-class voters, this challenge poses a strategic dilemma as Sen outlines:
“a green-cosmopolitan agenda of socially liberal leftism is fundamentally
incompatible with Ukip’s social conservatism”.
Miliband’s dilemma – grappling with the tensions between ‘cosmopolitan’ and
‘communitarian’ supporters on the one hand and traditional left-right economic
questions on the other – is one that is all too familiar for much of the
European centre left. But if Miliband can overcome it, a Labour victory in May,
coupled with the centre left in power or in coalition in countries such as
France, Italy, Sweden, Denmark, Germany and the Netherlands offers some hope.
What radical left salvos fired from Greece and
most likely Spain will add to this mixture remains to be seen. The populist
revolt against the European establishment has reached new heights. In the
lexicon of the crisis, Pasokification has now joined Grexit.
month's State of the Left features critical analysis from Denmark, France, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, the United Kingdom and the United States
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