Greek Elections: Far-Left Syriza Takes Sharp Lead In Exit Polls

Greece’s closely watched parliamentary elections will come to a close later today, but the austerity-critical, left-wing party Syriza is almost sure to emerge victorious with an estimated 35.5 to 39.5 percent of the total vote. That will place them more than 10 percentage points ahead of the current majority holder New Democracy, who have faced criticism for submitting to bailout terms viewed as harsh by many Greeks, reported The Wall Street Journal.

Although Syriza will garner a 50-seat bonus in Congress from winning the majority in the elections, it is still possible it will not win a clear majority in parliament. That, says WSJ, makes things interesting for whatever party comes in third place as they would then yield vital support for either Syriza or New Democracy. That is likely to either be centrist To Potami party or the ultranationalist Golden Dawn party, the latter of which has faced accusations of Neo-Nazi ties.

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Alexis Tsipras has promised to fight against the austerity waged against the country by other nations nervous about collecting on Greek debt, reported BBC News. If Syriza proves victorious in the Greek elections, there will a huge divide between what Greece’s creditors and the ruling party want. Tsipras and the rest of his party are campaigning largely on the rejection of “market-oriented overhauls, privatizations, and deregulation measures that Germany and other creditors say are essential for restoring Greece’s economic competitiveness,” which could prove troublesome according to a previous WSJ article.

“Since 2010, keeping the bailout program on track has proved even harder than agreeing its terms. The current program relies on optimistic growth and fiscal forecasts. And Syriza has yet to prove it can run a government and implement difficult overhauls. If the program goes off track again, creditors will demand extra austerity and reforms, which could push a Syriza government to breaking point—as happened to the Samaras government this winter. If Syriza cracks under the pressure, another round of uncertainty and early elections will follow, perhaps returning conservative New Democracy to power.”

Of course, Greece is not the only flailing economy within the European Union. According to The Economist, the lessons of Greece may influence the actions of other countries staring down their own potential or current crises, and even who the people choose in their own elections. Greece may even make good on threats to leave the EU altogether.

“Investors seem to be betting that the people of Italy, Spain and France will peek at the chaos in Athens, shudder — and stick to the austerity that Germany’s Angela Merkel has prescribed for them.”

[Images via MegaTV and Flickr]