Syriza’s Victory: When populism and opportunism meets European technocracy?

Screen Shot 2015-01-25 at 22.40.37And a stunning and pretty decisive result in Greece. It appears even to have taken Syriza by surprise, leaving them only one seat short of an outright majority.

Open Europe already have a good blog post outlining the possibilities: Independent Greeks (ANEL); or the centrists To Potami.

The problem with the first is that whilst they firmly agree on ‘ending austerity’, they depart radically on issues like immigration (Greece is one of the EU’s beleaguered front line states in that regard). And To Potami have the same misgivings every other former mainstream heretofore, ie, they don’t think the Syriza plan is actionable.

Gerry Adams does. Almost out of nowhere last week it was suddenly pushing Tsipras’s plans for a European Dept Conference on a reluctant Taoiseach, and was rewarded with a confident prediction from the Greek leader in waiting that Sinn Fein would sweep to victory in Ireland next year.

That, of course, may very well depend on just how successful Greece is in getting the Eurozone mountain to come to them. Heretofore the Germans in particular have made it known that it thinks the Eurozone could survive a Greek exit. And they are not the only ones of that opinion.

Indeed, it has been pointed out that debt forgiveness on the scale proposed by Tsipras’ ‘Thessaloniki programme’ would break the Eurozone, since it would signal to others that they could run up debt and default without penalty. A de facto fiscal union.

Yet Tsipras has a pretty strong democratic mandate, and one premised on staying within the Eurozone (which gets a rating of 76% in polls). Indeed, there is no legal (or at least safe) way that a country can be kicked out of the Eurozone, it’s just that without a meaningful compromise staying in might just become too painful to sustain.

As Open Europe notes…

Allowing Greece a compromise could well spur them on and signal a huge shift in the bloc’s approach to the crisis. Equally, refusing to compromise could undermine their proclamations of change. That said, it could also further fuel the popular backlash against EU-mandated austerity.

The implications will be felt across Europe. While a compromise could still be possible, it will be quite painful to reach and will imply someone taking big steps back from their previous stance.

In addition we are likely to witness first hand what happens when populism and opportunism meets slow footed European technocracy. The result may not be very pretty at all..

Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty