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Monday, 26 January 2015

Syriza’s historic win puts Greece on collision course with Europe

The Guardian

The euro briefly slumped to an 11-year low in Asian trading on Monday morning and looks set to come under further pressure when European markets open. 

Voters handed power to Alexis Tsipras, the charismatic 40-year-old former communist who leads the umbrella coalition of assorted leftists known as Syriza. He cruised to an eight-point victory over the incumbent centre-right New Democracy party, according to exit polls and projections after 99% of votes had been counted.

Related: The Guardian view on the Greek election: a new deal for a new era | Editorial
The result surpassed pollster predictions and marginalised the two mainstream parties that have run the country since the military junta’s fall in 1974. It appeared, however, that Syriza would win 149 seats – just short of securing the 151 of 300 seats that would enable Tsipras to govern without coalition partners.

“The sovereign Greek people today have given a clear, strong, indisputable mandate,” Tsipras told a crowd of rapturous flag-waving party supporters. “Greece has turned a page. Greece is leaving behind the destructive austerity, fear and authoritarianism. It is leaving behind five years of humiliation and pain.”

Greece’s incumbent prime minister, Antonis Samaras, whose conservative-dominated coalition had been in office since June 2012, conceded defeat early in the evening and admitted that “mistakes and injustices” had been made but insisted he was leaving office with a clear conscience. “I assumed charge of a country that was on the brink of collapse … and we restored its international credibility,” said Samaras.

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