Could Syriza’s victory be a boost for similar radical left European parties, maybe especially for Pomedos in Spain, but perhaps also somehow for eurosceptics? Read few commensts
Simon Lightfoot, Senior Lecturer in European Politics, University of Leeds
Syriza’s victory continues a trend that was obvious in the last European Parliamentary elections of voters in many EU states (but not all) turning away from the mainstream parties. The victory will therefore be a boost for other radical left parties such as Pomedos who oppose austerity, although Pomedos will have to ensure it can turn opinion poll support into real votes. The forthcoming regional election, especially in Andalusia, will be an interesting test of support for Pomedos.
The result in Greece will also be interpreted as signalling a rise in support for Euro sceptic parties, despite Syriza’s support for EU membership. If the Independent Greek party do, as predicted, form part of the coalition in Greece that will give other right leaning parties encouragement. Given that Syriza and the Independent Greek’s have little in common except their opposition to austerity does show that in specific case anti-austerity is the dominant political policy. Of course the major challenge for Syriza is to deliver on its promises. Therefore whilst all eyes are on Athens today, many crucial decisions are likely to be made in Berlin over the coming weeks.
Pietro Castelli Gattinara, Research Assistant, Department of Politics and International Relations, University of Leicester
The victory of Syriza will surely be a boost for similar radical parties in Europe. Podemos in Spain is the most ‘similar’ case. My opinion is that the victory of Syriza might move the party/movement further ‘to the left’ (Podemos is currently refusing to self define as either left or right-wing, similar to other movements in Europe), possibly towards an alliance with Izquierda Unida, the main radical left coalition composed primarily by Eurocommunists. This effect will be tested soon, in the Spanish elections later this year.
In the other ‘sick man of Europe’, Italy, social movements and radical left parties are actively trying to learn the lesson from Greece (for example, at the last Europarliament elections, the left run with a list called “Tsipras list – for another Europe”, hence creating a direct link with the greek left). Yet, the traditionally divided Italian left is still far far away from achieving a success of comparable magnitude. On the one hand, the italian left has been unable to develop the grassroot activism which is behind syriza’s impressive electoral results, on the other the Italian radical left is still subject to the influence of mainstream left parties. Alexis Tsipras success is also related to him dropping all forms of dialogue with the mainstream political actors responsible of the austerity policies. Beyond crisis-ridden parties, the victory of Alexis Tsipras will also impact on the German political system, as shown by the massive presence of German activists yesterday in Athens (the radical left Die Linke is gaining support, according to recent polls).
I do not think that the results of the greek elections will be beneficial to Eurosceptic parties. Syriza has an extremely clear political position towards Europe: it is ‘radical’ in its views, but by no means Eurosceptic (this is why they cannot get an electoral alliance with the KKE, the Greek communist party). In the past months, instead, Euroscepticism has been boosted by the fear-arousing campaign led by mainstream political parties, who have defined Syriza as ‘populist, the ‘enemy’ of Europe, or as the party who will lead Greece out of the Eurozone. None of this is true, and mainstream parties (in Greece, in the rest of Europe and, in particular, in Bruxells) shall better take into account that Syriza is now a legitimate actor within the European political arena.
Instead, the main ‘worrying’ element from yesterday election is the success of Golden Dawn, the neonazi party who ranked third in the election despite all its leaders being currently arrested. In a recent interview, the leader of the party declared that “Syriza will win the election, but once Tsipras will fail it will be our turn to take the power”. The EU, which is born from the ruins of WWII, cannot accept that neonazism and neofascism are represented in the representative bodies of its member states.
Frank Häge, Lecturer in Politics, Department of Politics and Public Administration, University of Limerick
It really depends on how it all ends. Syriza is now in a position to put into practice what many more radical left parties have been campaigning for elsewhere, including here in Ireland, but did not get elected on that platform. I think there will be strong resistance not only from the main lenders in northern Europe to any major form of debt relief, but also from governments that have already implemented painful austerity policies with the justification that this was the only available option. The EU is in a bit of a dilemma now, on the one hand, it can’t really give in to the demands of Syriza, because that would undermine its own narrative about how these types of crises need to be dealt with and, more importantly, would set a precedent for other countries in similar situations (and as a result, would indeed boost support for these types of demands). On the other hand, I don’t think there is any appetite to push Greece out of the Euro either, because that would undermine the trust into the stability of the currency union as a whole.
Sheri Berman, Professor of Political Science, Barnard College
Yes, this should boost other radical or new left parties in Europe, at least over the short term. Pomedos is the most obvious case here–the party has a somewhat similar profile in a country that has also suffered from austerity and stagnation. There are differences though–Spain isn’t as bad off as Greece and the Spanish socialist party is not as tarred with corruption and inefficiency as its Greek counterpart. Nonetheless, frustration with austerity in particular and the EU more generally has become widespread, particularly in Southern Europe, and the parties at either end of the political spectrum have thus far gained the most from this. I would expect this trend to continue. The question is: does the radical or new left have more than legitimate criticisms of the reigning order? It is clear that the status quo is awful, and that it is easy to take potshots at both austerity and the EU. But governing means, well, governing. And so Syriza and its counterparts now need to move from the stage of criticizing the status quo and mouthing vague anti-austerity and even anti-capitalist platitudes and coming up with programs that can deliver positive change–and fast. If not, it will likely be the radical right that benefits, since the frustration and suffering will not go away.
Cas Mudde, Assistant Professor, Department of International Affairs, University of Georgia
Yes, the Syriza victory will be a boost for radical left parties like Podemos and will help Eurosceptics in general, as they can point to an example of a Eurosceptic government. That said, any negative experiences with Syriza can also also have negative consequences for radical left and Eurosceptic parties.