The far-left anti-austerity coalition, Syriza, has decisively won the elections in Greece under the leadership of 40-year old Alexi Tsipras, with an 8-point victory over the incumbent New Democracy party. This is the first time that a leftist party has been elected to power in four decades, which have been dominated by the New Democracy party-Panhellenic Socialist Movement party duo. Falling just a little short of the 151 seats needed to form a majority government, Syriza has forged a coalition with the anti-austerity center-right party, Independent Greeks, which managed to win 13 seats in the election. With this arrangement removing the last obstacle, Alexi Tsipras has been elected the new Prime Minister of Greece for a four-year term.

The election results in Greece are a clear victory for anti-austerity measures that the country has been subjected to following the collapse of its economy, and which has taken quite a toll on the Greek populace. In May 2010, the so-called troika comprising of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the European Central Bank and the European Commission– extended more loans to an already indebted country while demanding austerity measures and structural reforms in return. The creditors foresaw the rise in unemployment and cut in government spending that would follow, they miscalculated the scale of the effects of their plan and the pace with which the economy would recover. By 2014, the economy had shrunk by 25%, overall unemployment had risen to 28% and 60% youth were unemployed. The populace felt that it was being asked to sacrifice with no rewards in sight. To add insult to injury, Greece’s powerful elites and oligarchs continued to evade taxes, and the culture of nepotism and corruption remained intact despite the severe economic crisis plaguing the country. The economic situation and the inability of the Greece’s ruling elite and the troika to rectify the situation led to the rise of Syriza, which presented itself as strongly opposed to austerity measures, dictation from Europe and promised to go after “the entangled” – politicians and oligarchs who the Greeks believe to be in bed together.

Mr Tsparis, wishes to “bring an end to the vicious cycle of austerity” and is opposed to simply going on with the program, which includes repayment of debt as well as more loans. This is why he has been elected, but it puts him at odds with Europe. He has been welcomed by warnings from European officials. They are willing to consider the rescheduling of the debt, but do not plan to waive it off or give “special treatment” to Greece. It would be interesting to witness how Mr Tsparis will bridge the gap between his promises of change and the realities that guide his country’s and Europe’s fate. Another aspect to watch out for is the impact Syriza’s victory may have on other austerity-hit European nations such as Spain, Portugal and Italy, where previously sidelined far-left parties are aspiring to rule.