Syriza’s Rise Will Test Greece and EU, but the Euro Is Safe

Syriza’s Rise Will Test Greece and EU, but the Euro Is Safe
The flags of Greece and the European Union billow in the wind in front of the ruins of the fifth century B.C. Parthenon temple, Athens, Greece, Jan. 23, 2015 (AP photo by Petros Giannakouris).

This Sunday, Jan. 25, Greeks will go to the polls for snap elections, with the radical left party Syriza currently polling ahead of the governing center-right New Democracy party by a margin of about 5 percent. The elections were called due to a technicality of Greece’s constitution requiring the dissolution of parliament if it is unable to elect a new president, a mostly decorative post in Greece’s parliamentary democracy.

When that in fact transpired and parliament was dissolved on Dec. 29, three things became apparent about the course of the country’s politics and fragile economic recovery, even as new questions were raised about the European Union. These questions have to do not with the EU’s economy, as many fear, but with its ability to accommodate a potential leftist government far outside mainstream European politics.

First, the Greek constitution, adopted exactly 30 years ago just after the fall of the “Colonels’ regime,” suffers from a birth defect in the form of the technicality behind Sunday’s elections. The constitution stipulates that the parliament must be dissolved if it fails to elect a new president of the republic by a qualified majority—180 out of the total of 300 parliamentary seats—after three rounds of voting. The measure is designed to allow the people to elect a new parliament that will then be able to elect a president under less stringent majority requirements. In practice, it has produced government instability and even negative economic effects.

Keep reading for free!

Get instant access to the rest of this article by submitting your email address below. You'll also get access to three articles of your choice each month and our free newsletter:

Or, Subscribe now to get full access.

Already a subscriber? Log in here .

What you’ll get with an All-Access subscription to World Politics Review:

A WPR subscription is like no other resource — it’s like having a personal curator and expert analyst of global affairs news. Subscribe now, and you’ll get:

  • Immediate and instant access to the full searchable library of tens of thousands of articles.
  • Daily articles with original analysis, written by leading topic experts, delivered to you every weekday.
  • Regular in-depth articles with deep dives into important issues and countries.
  • The Daily Review email, with our take on the day’s most important news, the latest WPR analysis, what’s on our radar, and more.
  • The Weekly Review email, with quick summaries of the week’s most important coverage, and what’s to come.
  • Completely ad-free reading.

And all of this is available to you when you subscribe today.