Syriza ousts coali­tion as anti-aus­ter­ity vote tri­umphs

Financial Mirror (Cyprus) - - FRONT PAGE -

The rad­i­cal left­ist Syriza de­clared a vic­tory for its anti-aus­ter­ity mes­sage on Mon­day af­ter its can­di­dates fared strongly in big lo­cal elec­tion races in Athens and the sur­round­ing re­gion.

In what may have been a fore­taste of the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment vote this weekend, a can­di­date for the main op­po­si­tion party got most votes on Sun­day in the race for Athens district gover­nor and an­other made the runoff for Athens mayor, knock­ing out Prime Min­is­ter An­to­nis Sa­ma­ras’s may­oral favourite.

Both can­di­dates will be in runoffs against more main­stream left­ist-backed in­cum­bents, who now have Sa­ma­ras’s sup­port.

“This is an omen for po­lit­i­cal change be­cause Greeks are ex­tremely frus­trated, dis­ap­pointed and des­per­ate be­cause of aus­ter­ity poli­cies and are try­ing to find a way to ex­press this frus­tra­tion,” Syriza leader Alexis Tsipras told La Repub­blica news­pa­per in Italy where he was cam­paign­ing on Mon­day.

Tsipras is the ra­dial Euro­pean Left’s can­di­date to be­come the next Euro­pean Com­mis­sion pres­i­dent. “The polls show that Syriza will win the EU (Par­lia­ment) elec­tions next Sun­day and this will prob­a­bly trig­ger po­lit­i­cal de­vel­op­ments in the coun­try but also send a strong mes­sage to Europe against aus­ter­ity,” Tsipras said.

Syriza, which ve­he­mently op­posed the EU-IMF bailout, has sought to cast the lo­cal and EU rul­ing poli­cies.

Sa­ma­ras’s govern­ment, how­ever, played down Sun­day’s re­sults as in­con­clu­sive, point­ing to a string of first-round vic­to­ries by the two rul­ing coali­tion par­ties in the re­main­ing 12 re­gions as well as in most other big cities.

“This re­sult does not give any­body a rea­son to cel­e­brate,” govern­ment spokesman Simos Kedikoglou told state tele­vi­sion, deny­ing the govern­ment’s sta­bil­ity was at stake.

“The key is­sue is sta­bil­ity. The govern­ment must con­clude its mis­sion. We are at a de­ci­sive phase. We have cov­ered a big part of the jour­ney but we still have work to do.”

Fi­nan­cial mar­kets also took the re­sults in their stride.

The Athens stock mar­ket was up 0.9% in af­ter­noon trade af­ter ris­ing as much as 3.4% ear­lier on Mon­day, with traders say­ing the re­sults were not a knock-out blow to the govern­ment as feared.

“It’s not as dis­ap­point­ing as the mar­ket had dis­counted at the end of last week,” said Takis Za­ma­nis, a trader at Athens-based Beta Se­cu­ri­ties. “This re­sult doesn’t seem to be threat­en­ing the govern­ment’s sta­bil­ity.”

Yields on 10-year govern­ment bonds were down 10 ba­sis points to 6.68%. In­vestors are closely watch­ing the out­come of this elec­tions as a ref­er­en­dum on the coali­tion’s pro-bailout, aus­ter­ity weekend’s EU vote to see if it ush­ers in a new bout of po­lit­i­cal in­sta­bil­ity in Greece that dashes a fee­ble re­cov­ery tak­ing root in the coun­try af­ter six years of re­ces­sion.

Polls have largely shown Syriza with a nar­row lead over Sa­ma­ras’s con­ser­va­tive New Democ­racy party for the EU vote, though one poll pub­lished on Sun­day by Kapa Re­search showed Syriza with a nearly 5 point lead over the rul­ing party.

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