Whatever our own politicians like to say, Syriza’s renewed victory at the polls in Greece on Sunday is certainly a “prelude for the Portuguese” elections as well as those following in Spain and Ireland, affirm international observers.
In articles by the Guardian, the Financial Times, blogs and various fora, the bottom line is that the success of a left-wing party prepared to challenge the iron-fist of austerity cannot be swept under the carpet.
As the FT explains, “the elections of late 2015 are going to help shape the debate over Europe and the eurozone for the rest of this decade”.
While international press describe Portugal’s reaction so far as muted, Syriza’s victory has been hailed by Spain’s anti-austerity party Podemos as “a triumph for radicalism”.
Party leader Pablo Iglesias said last night: “The victory of Syriza will provoke something new in the political panorama of Greece – they’re going to have a real Greek president (sic). Not a delegate of Angela Merkel whose interest will rank above those of the country and its people”.
The Guardian reported that in Ireland – where the country goes to the polls early next year – Gerry Adams, president of Sinn Féin, has said Syriza’s victory “opens up the real prospect of democratic change, not just for the people of Greece but for citizens right across the EU”.
He wasn’t the only one welcoming the news, said the paper. Veteran anti-poverty campaigner Fr Sean Healy described the result as “the politics of hope”, saying that the austerity politics of “business as usual was not an option”.
Here, however, both Portuguese prime minister Pedro Passos Coelho and deputy coalition leader Paulo Portas were at pains to repeat the mantra that “Portugal is not Greece”.
Asked about his state of mind in face of the Greek election result, Passos Coelho told SIC TV: “I do not have states of mind. I can only say that happily Portugal lives today in a climate that is very different from that lived in Greece.”
To RTP he said: “I do not have any commentary to make, except to stress that today, happily, Portugal has a stability that Greece has not had for years, and thus our elections are going forwards in a different atmosphere.”
Nonetheless, New Europe website points out that “the ruling coalition cannot translate what appears to be ‘a success story’ into electoral appeal”.
Despite positive signs within the Portuguese economy, there are no firm favourites in the election contest, now only two weeks ago.
In his final speech before Greece went to the polls, Syriza leader Alexis Tsipras highlighted the “strong message” a win could mean for progressive forces in Spain and Portugal.
“Imagine how important it will be if, from this point on, the Greek prime minister in Brussels is not only one against many, but has with him Pablo Iglesias from Spain, Gerry Adams from Ireland and a progressive prime minister from Portugal,” he told his audience of thousands in Athens’ Syntagma Square.
By NATASHA DONN [email protected]
Photo: EPA/YANNIS KOLESIDIS