What to understand from Syriza’s victory in Greece?

With voter turnout at almost 64%, the radical leftist party Syriza won the early parliamentary elections in Greece with 36.34% of the vote and 149 seats – 2 seats short of absolute majority in parliament – well ahead of the incumbent rightist party New Democracy by almost 10 points at 27.81%. Additional significant news came from the very rightist Golden Dawn who gained the 3rd place with 6.28% of the vote despite the imprisonment of most of its leaders. From an economic viewpoint, the lack of strong reaction of the euro against the US dollar (EURUSD) and the European indexes in pre-market seems to confirm that the financial markets have largely anticipated Syriza’s victory. However possible disruption could arise in the future depending on Syriza’s political choices vis-à-vis the euro area and the Greek economic policy.

The relevant information is mainly political. While across Europe the leftist political parties joyfully welcomed Syriza’s victory, these are mostly the rightist parties hostile to the European Union and the euro which should benefit the most from it. Indeed, the elections of Alexis Tsipras and his party resulted from their opposition to austerity policy much more than from their posture on the very left of the political spectrum. The firmly established parties which already demonstrated their ability to win such as UKIP in the UK or the Front National in France should therefore capitalize on the Syriza effect. It is eventually a clear warning sent to the parties of the “classic” right-wing and left-wing which shared highest responsibilities alternatively in major European countries.

Not only Syriza’s victory showed that institutional groups like the Greek socialists can disappear after decades as the main opposition group or as the majority in charge of the government – Evangelos Venizelos’s PASOK and Georgios Papandreou’s KIDISO respectively got 4.68% and 2.46% of the vote – but it has also proved that the current circumstances constitute a breeding ground for a deep reshuffle of the political scene with one or several parties that manage to come to power though it had been largely said to be impossible. Europe’s political, moral and identity crisis is far deeper than most of the European governments believe it is: Syriza is the tip of a European political iceberg. However, if the newly-elected Greek Prime Minister Tsipras was taking too radical decisions or rather disappointing the people under political and financial pressure, the scenario of a likely victory of so-called “anti-establishment” parties, particularly in the UK and France, could suffer from it.