Fringe radical parties of the far-left have attracted votes in record numbers in the Greek election over the weekend.
Projections show the Coalition of the Radical Left (Syriza in Greek) has won 16% of the vote, the communist party and democratic left captured approximately 6% combined according to estimates.
Syriza, who is led by Alexis Tsipras, 37, attracted more votes than the 13% won by the centre-left Pasok party.
The two pillars of the political establishment in Greece since 1974, the Pasok party and the centre-right New Democracy party, who won 20%, both signed off on the unpopular austerity measures imposed by the European Union, IMF and creditors last year.
Tsipras’s has said during the campaign he wants to tax the rich, delay debt repayments and cut defence spending. These sentiments have struck a chord with voters angry at the state of the Greek economy left by the two major parties, as well as the bailout measures.
“The people of Europe can no longer be reconciled with the bailouts of barbarism,” Tsipras said on state-run NET TV late yesterday after his Syriza party unexpectedly came second in the country’s election. “European leaders, and especially Ms Merkel, should realise that her policies have undergone a crushing defeat.”
The result puts the Syriza party in a position to form government if New Democracy fails to put a coalition together in the first round of talks.
What may stop Tsipras from taking power are the bitter rivalries among the parties of the Greek left.
Before yesterday’s election result, Tsipras had proposed joining forces with the Communist Party of Greece and the Democratic Left, but both parties have rejected the overture.
The communist party chief Aleka Papariga repeated her refusal last night.
The Greek Government has agreed to impose pension and wage cuts in return for two international rescues worth up to 240 billion euros ($AU307.4 billion). Greece must continue the spending cuts to keep the money flowing.
The euro fell to a three-month low after the election results revived concerns austerity efforts in Europe may be derailed.