NEWS

Tsipras returns to power with clear election win

TAGS: Elections, Politics

Alexis Tsipras returned to power on Sunday after SYRIZA scored a convincing electoral win that allowed the prime-minister-in-waiting to renew the alliance with Independent Greeks and its leader Panos Kammenos.

With 70 percent of the votes counted, SYRIZA had 35.43 percent. This would give the leftist party 144 seats in Parliament. New Democracy followed with 28.29 percent, despite the fact that opinion polls had indicated the conservatives would challenge SYRIZA for first spot.

Golden Dawn was in third with just over 7 percent, followed by PASOK on 6.38, the Communist Party on 5.47, Potami on 4, Independent Greeks on 3.65 and the Union of Centrists on 3.38.

Popular Unity, formed by SYRIZA rebels in August, looked like it would fail to make it into Parliament after garnering 2.84 percent of the vote.

The alliance between SYRIZA and Independent Greeks was expected to have 154 out of the 300 seats in Parliament.

Addressing a large crowd in central Athens, Tsipras said he felt “vindicated” as Greeks had given him a mandate to “keep fighting inside and outside the country.” He referred to a “crystal-clear mandate” to purge the Greek system of “vulgarity and corruption.”

“This victory belongs to the people and to those who dream of a better tomorrow which we’ll achieve through hard work,” he said. “We will continue, with Panos Kammenos, under the banner of honesty,”

Tsipras said, as the leader of Independent Greeks (ANEL) beamed on stage next to him.

New Democracy leader Evangelos Meimarakis had conceded defeat early in the evening as, with 20 percent of the vote counted, SYRIZA had secured a clear lead of over 7 percent. “We fought the election battle with seriousness and dignity,” Meimarakis said.

He added that ND will remain “a pillar of stability,” declaring that those who had wanted to “demolish” the party had been proved wrong. “New Democracy is neither demolished nor finished; it is a pillar of stability,” he said, adding that “internal party issues” will be discussed in good time, an apparent reference to ND’s leadership.

Meimarakis called on Tsipras to move quickly to form a coalition. “I congratulate him and urge him to create the government which is needed and come to Parliament.”

Earlier in the night Kammenos referred to a “patriotic vote of confidence in tomorrow...despite the relentless war against our party.” “From tomorrow morning, with Tsipras as prime minister, we’ll move forward to form a new coalition,” he said. In a fierce dig at pollsters who had consistently predicted that his party would fail to enter Parliament, Kammenos referred to “hired killers.”

With centrist Potami on course to garner around 4 percent of the national vote, 6 percent below the party’s self-proclaimed target, party leader Stavros Theodorakis was visibly disappointed. “We believed that the country could change course but it appears that we are returning to January,” Theodorakis told reporters.

“Potami is very far from its goals,” he said, conceding that, particularly in the provinces, Potami had been “unable to convey his message.” “We will be present, in opposition of course,” to keep the country on course, he said. He said Potami would not cooperate in a coalition that did not allow it to “shape” decisions and the course of governance.

PASOK appeared set to boost its presence in Parliament after campaigning jointly with Democratic Left. In comments to reporters last night, PASOK leader Fofi Gennimata referred to “a new dynamic.” Those who had predicted the annihilation of PASOK were proved woefully wrong, she said. “SYRIZA and Tsipras have the duty to secure a coalition for the next four years,” she said, adding that “from tonight all democratic parties must face their responsibilities.”

Neofascist Golden Dawn appeared to have retained its third place, on around 7 percent of the vote. In a statement, party leader Nikos Michaloliakos said GD’s “victory” was particularly significant as “we had an entire system against us.”

Panayiotis Lafazanis, whose party seemed unlikely to pass the 3 percent threshold to enter Parliament, said Popular Unity had given a “dignified and beautiful struggle” without the support of the mainstream media. He also referred to “a memorandum Armageddon” lying ahead for Greeks.

Former parliamentary speaker Zoe Constantopoulou, who ran on Popular Unity’s ticket, referred to a record abstention rate of around 45 percent, noting that Parliament “doesn’t represent more than 50 percent of Greeks.” “We can be proud that we gave a struggle against the powers and for the people,” she said.

The Communist Party (KKE) fared considerably better than Popular Unity, who had appealed several times to KKE for a joint campaign. “KKE will remain opposed to any government that seeks to enforce the barbaric memorandum,” Dimitris Koutsoumbas said, referring to Greece’s third bailout.

Parliament appeared set to receive an eighth member with Vassilis Leventis’s Union of Centrists well above the threshold. Leventis referred to a “victory of the young” as exit polls suggested that a significant percentage of Greeks aged between 18 and 25 voted for him.

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