Election Seen Returning Greece’s Tsipras to Power

The far-left leader is likely to return to power at the head of a coalition government.

Greek Syriza party leader Alexis Tsipras speaks at a news conference in Brussels, September 27, 2012
Greek Syriza party leader Alexis Tsipras speaks at a news conference in Brussels, September 27, 2012 (GUE/NGL)

Former Greek prime minister Alexis Tsipras’ far-left Syriza party was on track to win the country’s second election in less than a year on Sunday, early results showed.

With a quarter of the votes counted, Syriza was ahead with 35 percent support against 28 percent for its right-wing rival, New Democracy.

Preelection polls had shown the two parties neck and neck.

The fascist Golden Dawn was in third place with around 7 percent support followed by the social democratic PASOK.

New Democracy quickly conceded defeat.

The outcome would give Syriza 144 seats in parliament, the Interior Ministry projected, only five fewer than it won in January and seven short of a majority.

Tsipras, who resigned last month, previously said he might only return to power at the head of a coalition government. PASOK and the centrist To Potami are seen as the likeliest partners in case the right-wing Independent Greeks, who supported Tsipras’ first government, fail to clear the 3 percent election threshold.

Tsipras has rejected suggestions from New Democracy to form a grand coalition that could restore political stability in the Balkan nation.

Sunday’s general election was the fifth in as many years. This summer, Greeks also voted in a referendum on the terms of their country’s last bailout from the European Union and the International Monetary Fund. Although they resoundingly rejected demands for more austerity, Tsipras subsequently reneged on his promises and agreed to enact further economic and political reforms to qualify for a third, €86 billion bailout.

Although Greece desperately needed the money to contain a bank run and stave off sovereign default which could have triggered its ejection from the eurozone, Tsipras’ far-left party was split by the decision. Dozens of its lawmakers refused to back the bailout plan and walked out to form a new party, Popular Unity. It looked unlikely to win any seats.