Q&A: What Syriza’s victory means for Greece and the EU bailout

Alexis Tsipras and his party have returned to power with a mandate to govern Greece and implement the bailout deal. Syriza officials said the party would seek to form a stable government immediately with the aim of maintaining confidence in the country…

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How well did Syriza and Alexis Tsipras do?

With 99.5% of the votes counted, Syriza had 35.5% of the vote, easily beating the centre-right New Democracy, the next biggest party on 28.1%. After Tsipras disappointed supporters by accepting a harsh eurozone-led austerity programme finalised in August, leftwingers appeared to be deserting Syriza, with polls showing New Democracy level just two weeks ago. But Syriza will now have 145 seats in the 300-member parliament – just four fewer than when Tsipras took power in January. Its share of the vote is also less than one percentage point down on its 36.3% share in January, although turnout was put at a record low of 55.6%.

What next for Syriza and Alexis Tsipras?

Syriza officials said the party would seek to form a stable government immediately with the aim of maintaining confidence in the country. Its former coalition partner, the small anti-austerity rightwing Independent Greeks party, is ready to use its 10 seats to forge a power-sharing agreement with Syriza. Independent Greeks’ leader, Panos Kammenos, joined Tsipras on stage to celebrate the result. Tsipras claimed the result gave him a mandate to govern and that he intended to serve a full term, promising relief for voters weary from five elections in six years.

Does this change the bailout deal with the EU?

No. Syriza campaigned on a pledge to implement the €86bn (£63bn) bailout, while pledging measures to protect vulnerable groups from some of its effects. In exchange for the bailout funds, Tsipras agreed to deficit-reduction measures including tax rises, changes to pensions and social welfare cuts. Other aspects include labour market reform, liberalisation of consumer markets and fewer perks for civil servants. Tsipras’s first task will be to persuade EU lenders that Greece has taken enough agreed steps to ensure the next payment. The bailout programme is up for review next month.

Could the IMF decline to join the bailout?

Yes. The International Monetary Fund has said it will refuse to take part in the bailout unless there is an “explicit and concrete” agreement on debt relief for Greece. The IMF has argued that Greece cannot bear the full burden of the austerity programme and that its creditors should include debt relief in the package. Without a long moratorium on repayments, perhaps of 30 years, or a reduction in the value of the debt, the burden will become unmanageable, the IMF has argued.

Will Greece need another bailout anyway?

Greece might need another rescue. Tsipras hopes Syriza’s electoral victory will give him renewed clout to negotiate debt relief and less onerous austerity measures from Greece’s creditors. But that stance will not be popular with Germany or European institutions that imposed draconian measures on Greece in the name of fiscal discipline. If Tsipras is unable to extract significant concessions, the economy will remain weak, endangering deficit-reduction targets in the current deal and potentially requiring another bailout to head off a debt default.

What do the markets think?

Reaction in financial markets was muted on Monday morning. The euro was little changed while Britain’s FTSE 100 share index, which has gyrated in the past in reaction to Greek events, rose slightly. The yield on Greek two-year bonds fell a little, meaning traders think the risk of default is reduced. Simon Smith, chief economist at the currency trader FxPro, said: “The immediate impact has been minimal, the single currency opening little changed versus Friday’s opening levels. In the wider picture, it’s not going to make life any easier for the likes of the EU, IMF and European Central Bank and the negotiations surrounding debt sustainability over the coming months.”

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