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26/01 – Syriza wins Greek elections: EU Compromise Expected

Most media outlets today report and comment prominently upon radical left-wing Syriza’s landslide victory in Greek elections yesterday, with 36.5% of the votes and about half the parliamentary seats. Based on this temporary count, charismatic 40-year-old Syriza leader Alexis Tsipras is set to become the prime minister of the first eurozone government openly opposed to bailout conditions imposed by the EU and IMF during the economic crisis,

The Malta Times comments, explaining that Tsipras’s campaign slogan “Hope is coming!” resonated with voters, weary of austerity after six years of constant crisis. Rai Tre specifies that the EC will comment on the Greek election only after the definitive results are made known, but El País says Syriza’s clear victory is set to bring significant novelty to the EU’s politics, though the extraordinary outcome may be hard to digest for many.

Several media outlets including ARD report that Bundesbank President Jens Weidmann said it was clear that Greece will have to rely on European support in the future, which implies that the agreements must be respected. According to Mr Weidmann, it is in Athens’s interest not to question what has been achieved and to “solve the structural problems” in both the administration and the economy.

Handelsblatt meanwhile notes that Wolfgang Schäuble did not actually “hide” his annoyance at the outcome of the Greek elections. Many newspapers and radio stations dedicate their editorials to the Greek elections, focusing on three major angles: the likelihood of a compromise between Syriza and the EU, whether a Grexit is still possible, and whether this situation will have repercussions on other EU countries.

Sigmund Gottlieb says on ARD that the Greek elections are neither “fateful elections for Europe” nor “a Greek tragedy.” However, several media, such as Dagens Nyheter, wonder: “Will Greece’s new government betray its voters, out of consideration for the country’s economy?” Many indeed argue that it is clear that Syriza’s programme cannot be combined with the EU’s expectation of Greece, but also that Tsipras has raised expectations in the campaign that he can hardly meet.

Libération says it is now time in Europe for a compromise based on a rescheduling of the Greek debt and a moratorium on the interest payments, arguing that the path toward this compromise is narrow, but that there is no other way. La Repubblica also says that a compromise between the EU and Mr Tsipras seems the only solution to prevent the Union from facing a financial storm.

On Welt.de, Christoph B. Schiltz writes that “the question is if the EU will let itself be blackmailed by Mr Tsipras”, while The Daily Telegraph reports that the incoming Greek government will be expected to honour its existing agreements with the eurozone. El País’s leader writer calls on the Syriza leader “to propose, suggest and defend what he may consider is in the best interest of the Greek people, yet without breaking commitments, causing harm to neighbouring taxpayers or endangering EU’s stability.”

The Daily Telegraph leader writer also calls on Alexis Tsipiras to “prove himself a statesman” by seeking a position of compromise. If he refuses, the author claims “chaos” will hit the financial markets of a kind not seen since the collapse of Lehman Brothers. In an interview with Le Quotidien, MEP Viviane Reding says she mostly fears political instability for Greece, as Syriza will not have a majority and a coalition will be needed. The Daily Telegraph says that Eurogroup President Jeroen Dijsselbloem will set out a strategy, which the report claims is “aimed at playing for time by drawing Syriza into months of talks”.

Le Figaro reports that a Eurogroup meeting will be held today to take stock of the new political landscape in Greece. One day after the Greek elections, Kathimerini specifies, outgoing Greek Minister of Finance Gikas Hardouvelis travels to Brussels to attend the Eurogroup meeting, and European finance ministers are expecting Mr Hardouvelis’ analysis regarding the political developments in Greece and the intentions of the new government with regards to the fifth Troika review, which is still pending.

Libération says that although they do not own Greek sovereign bonds anymore, financial markets will scrutinise Mr Tsipras’s statements in the upcoming days, adding that the main source of anxiety for financial centres is a possible contagion effect to other countries, such as Spain, Ireland or Portugal, which may consider restructuring their own debts.

La Repubblica also believes this opens the way to other anti-euro parties in other EU countries, notably in Spain where Podemos could have a chance at winning the upcoming election, says De Standaard. The Independent’s leader writer argues that the election of Syriza is likely to encourage both voters and parties across Europe to challenge and reject the concept of austerity economics.© European Union, 2015

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