Wednesday 18 October 2017

Greeks wreak revenge on austerity parties

Alex Spillius in Athens

Greek voters delivered a resounding message to Europe's leaders yesterday by choosing a parliament with a majority of MPs from parties that are against international bailouts.

The two mainstream parties that approved the second £110bn (€135bn) rescue loan and its stringent requirements for cuts were punished heavily as support surged for the far Left and Right.

The shattering of the political status quo threw into doubt Greece's commitment to meet the terms of its debt and could spread instability throughout the eurozone.

Weeks of uncertainty are likely to follow as numerous parties vie to cobble together a coalition, with a further election within two months a distinct possibility.

There will also be fears that ensuing political instability will lead to a return to the street violence that has scarred Athens since the debt crisis began two years ago.

Exit polls said the conservative New Democracy party would finish first with a maximum vote of 20pc, while Pasok, the main socialist party, would suffer a dramatic fall to 13-14pc. Voters held both responsible for years of mismanagement and corruption.

Mock

"The politicians who got us into this mess continue to mock us. Neither of them will do anything, all they are interested in is pulling the wool over our eyes so they can get into power again," said Yiorgos Vrassidis (55) after casting his vote.

He opted for the anti-austerity Syriza, an acronym for Coalition of the Radical Left, which shocked political observers by heading for second place with 15-17pc. Three years ago it received just a small percentage of the vote.

Independent Greeks, a nationalist party formed two months ago as a splinter group from New Democracy, reached 10-12pc after calling the bail-out an "economic Fourth Reich".

The ultra-Right party Golden Dawn was on course to enter the 300-member parliament for the first time under the proportional representation system, with 6-8pc. It played on fears of national decline and rising crime blamed on a growing illegal immigrant population.

Whatever sort of government is formed, it is likely to seek changes to the understanding between Greece and its creditors. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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