There were scenes of joy on the streets of Athens on the night of January 25 as results of the day's national elections gave a clear victory to SYRIZA -- the Coalition of the Radical Left. Addressing ecstatic supporters, SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras, since sworn in as prime minister, said: “Greece is turning the page. Greece leaves behind the austerity that caused it's destruction. It leaves behind fear and intimidation, it leaves behind five years of humiliation and grief.
Leader of the Greek radical left wing party SYRIZA Tsipras, took an oath pledging to "always serve the interests of the Greek people", rather than the traditional religious oath, in his swearing-in as the nation's new prime minister on the afternoon of January 26. The ceremony was held before the President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias at the Maximos Mansion in central Athens. This is the first time in the history of Greece that a prime minister has not taken the traditional oath and blessing of holy water from the Archbishop of Greece.
The victory of SYRIZA — Greece’s Coalition of the Radical Left — in the January 25 elections caused enormous outpouring of joy on the streets of Athens and confirmed general expectations. The “poll of polls” done on the day before the election had SYRIZA winning 37.5% and 146 seats. The final result was 36.49% and 149 seats. SYRIZA will now form government in alliance with the socially conservative, but anti-Brussels, Independent Greeks.
Green Left Weekly/s Vivian Messimeris spoke with SYRIZA activist and pensioner Sissy Vovou in Athens about the effects of austerity and the hope a SYRIZA government brings. You can read all of the Green Left reporting from Greece here and follow the Green Left live blog on the elections here. What impact have the austerity measures had on you?
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.
Vivian Messimeris is part of the Green Left Weekly team covering the elections in Greece, which polls give radical left group SYRIZA a strong chance of winning on January 25. She spoke to Hara Petsiou, a cleaner sacked from her job at the finance ministry. The sacked cleaners are fighting for their jobs. You can read more of Green Left's eyewitness coverage of Greece here. *** Can you explain what you are protesting about?
Today we visited one of the solidarity clinics that operates in the suburb of Peristeri. We met with some of the volunteers that work in the clinic that included two doctors as well as other activists. The clinic is staffed by 60 volunteers, including 20 doctors, and offers free medical consultations and pharmaceuticals. Peristeri is largely a working class suburb of 400,000 people and is located in west Athens, which has a population of 1 million. Before the economic crisis most residents worked in blue-collar industry or were self-employed in small businesses.
A crowd of about 80 people gathered to hear SYRIZA candidates speak at an outdoor meeting held in the suburb of Ambelokipi. Several candidates spoke passionately about the need for change, the need for action and the need for self-reliance. I was asked to present greetings in Greek on behalf of Green Left Weekly and Socialist Alliance.
Welcome to Green Left's live election blog for the Greek Elections! Dick Nichols, Vivian Messimeris and Athanasios Lazarou will be updating live from Athens throughout the day. Voting has just begun in Athens and the big news is that the Coalition of the Radical Left party, SYRIZA, are widely believed to be set for a historic victory over the current New Democracy government. Led by the young and charismatic Alexis Tsipras, SYRIZA are set to become the first left wing party to hold power in Europe for decades and will be the first anti-austerity party to come to power in the Eurozone.
Green Left Weekly journalist Vivian Messimeris, in Greece as part of Green Left's team reporting on the country's crucial January 25 elections, spoke to people in Athens on the elections and the likelihood of a win by radical left group SYRIZA. You can read more coverage of Greece and the elections here. *** Manolis Litsioltis Pensioner
Tens of thousands gathered in Omonia Square to hear Alexis Tsipras, leader of radical left party SYRIZA, speak at the last campaign rally before Greece's January 25 crucial election — which polls indicate SYRIZA will win. The crowd packed into the square and stretched as far as the eye could see. The atmosphere was electric. People were aware of the political significance and historic weight of this moment.
In the days ahead of Greece's January 25 general elections, all signs point to victory for the Alexis Tsipras-led Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA). The big unknown is whether the party will win an absolute majority in the 300-seat Greek parliament, freeing it from the need to negotiate with minority parties and ending the chance of a further national poll in case negotiations fail.
Speakers from the SYRIZA -- the radical left force poised to win Greece's January 25 general elections -- addressed the topic of “How To Recover From Unemployment” and the role of the Manpower Employment Organisation (OAED) in Athens on January 20. The meeting was addressed by SYRIZA candidates Despina Spanou, Dimitrios Stratoulis and Nazos Iliopoulos, as well Maria Karamesini, a SYRIZA member and economics lecturer at Panteio University.
“For millions of people, the European dream has turned into a nightmare,” Alexis Tspiras, the leader of Greece's Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA), said in a November 28 opinion piece in The Guardian. Tsipras was explaining why he will campaign on behalf of the European Left party for president of the European commission in elections next May. He said he was driven by the “desire to reunite Europe and rebuild it on a democratic and progressive basis. There is an alternative to the present crisis and it is our duty and destiny to fight for it.”
The 40th anniversary of the polytechnic uprising that helped end the Western-backed military junta in Greece was marked on November 17. The date is a national day of remembrance and marks a defining moment in modern Greek history. The image of a tank battering down the gates to the student-occupied polytechnic school 40 years ago remains strong in the public consciousness. To this day, it is illegal for the police and army to enter the university grounds.
The Greek parliament defied huge popular opposition, including a 48-hour general strike, to pass the latest set of extreme austerity measures demanded by the “troika” (the European Union, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund) in return for fresh loans. However, many commentators have pointed out it is one thing to vote up the measures and another to force them on an increasingly discontented populace.