Thousands gathered to watch SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras give his victory speech in front of Athens University on the night of Jaunary 25, after SYRIZA won the Greek elections with more than 36% of the vote.
Some were jubilant, but others were visibly moved. SYRIZA member Marina Moutafidou described how she had been waiting for this moment for more than 40 years.
In the crowd, there were contingents of workers who had been retrenched by the previous government -- school guards, cleaners and workers from the public broadcaster ERT. Left groups from across Europe were present, with a contingent of more than 250 from Italy’s The Other Europe with Tsipras.
Tsipras gave a rousing speech that recognised the significance of this historic moment. He spoke of the impact of austerity and how Greeks have voted for hope, for dignity and for justice.
“Greece is turning the page,” Tsipras, since sworn in as prime minister, said. “Greece leaves behind it the austerity that caused it's destruction. It leaves behind it fear and intimidation, it leaves behind it five years of humiliation and grief. Greece advances with hope, with dignity and steady steps towards a changing Europe.
“You and SYRIZA, our people are an example of a changing Europe. Our people who took the step and Greece that took that step into history, that forward step to unite with all of the people of Europe. Tonight we celebrate but tomorrow the hard work starts.”
Tsipras said there were no winners or losers in this election -- and that SYRIZA would govern for all, including those that didn’t vote for them.
He said: “We will form a government comprised of all Greek women and men. We will trust each and every Greek separately. We will fight to rebuild our country based on justice and decency.
“Today, there are no winners and losers. Today the Greece of the elite and of concealment has been defeated.”
He continued: “If someone won today, it is the Greece of toil, of creativity, of knowledge and culture. The fighting Greece, which seeks space and time. I want to thank all of you and above all those who are in every corner of Europe, who have shown an unprecedented wave of support and solidarity to the Greek people.”
He spoke of a new start and a new hope for Europe, saying: “All of Europe, all of the world is listening to us. We give the assurance that we will continue this struggle with the same pathos, with the same confidence.
“We move forward, in continuing this large difficult fight. Let’s raise the sun over Greece, raise the sun of justice, the sun of democracy, the sun of dignity. We will win, together we will advance and we will win.”
Tsipras concluded by acknowledging the thousands of young Greeks who have migrated in search work: “Tonight the people deserve to party and celebrate. For five years we have been burdened, we have a right to celebrate and party.
“To the thousands of graduates who have migrated and were unable to return to vote, this victory is theirs. We make them this promise, our major national goal is to bring them back, to work together to rebuild this country.”
Fireworks blasted and the crowd erupted into jubilant celebration with singing and dancing in the streets.
[Vivian Messimeris is part of the Green Left team in Greece to cover the potentially historic January 25 elections. She is a member of Australia's Socialist Alliance in Sydney. Follow all of Green Left's coverage direct from Athens here.]