Greek voters yesterday returned Alexis Tsipras to power with a strong election victory, ensuring that the charismatic leftist remains Greece’s dominant political figure despite caving into European demands for a bailout he once opposed.
With about a quarter of votes counted, Tsipras’s Syriza party was on course to claim 35.3% of the vote, easily seeing off his main conservative challengers New Democracy on 28.1%.
The interior ministry said that would give him 144 seats in the 300-seat parliament, just five fewer than when he first stormed to power early this year. New Democracy swiftly conceded defeat.
A Syriza source said the party would turn once again to the Independent Greeks party to form a coalition, restoring the alliance that first brought Tsipras to power nine months ago.
He called the election last month when his party split over his reversal on the €86bn bailout, which he had accepted despite having won a referendum mandate to reject similar terms.
Tsipras expects to form a government within three days, a party source said.
“The electoral result appears to be concluding with Syriza and Mr Tspiras in the lead. I congratulate him and urge him to create the government which is needed,” New Democracy’s leader Vangelis Meimarakiis said.
Third place in the election looked set to go again to Golden Dawn, a far right party with a swastika-like symbol, with around 7% of the vote.
Tsipras’s victory appears to have been stronger than some opinion polls had suggested. The firebrand leftist fought hard for Greece to be let off harsh austerity rules imposed by international creditors, only to back down last month after Greece’s banks were shut and the country was pushed to the wall.
More than two dozen of his lawmakers abandoned him, many saying he had betrayed his principles. He argued that his tough negotiating stance softened the blow of austerity and persuaded creditors to agree a restructuring of Greek debt.
“After years of almost unprecedented crisis, the vast majority of Greeks are endorsing parties that are promising to keep the country in the euro even if that implies thorough and painful reforms,” Holger Schmieding, chief economist at Germany’s Berenberg bank said.
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