Incumbent Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras should be regarded as a very far-sighted strategist who pulled the necessary tactical maneuver in good time. In a situation, when many were predicting a downfall for his political career, Tsipras evaluated his position in the modern Greek policy correctly and calculated his chances of success precisely.
On September 20, 2015, Greece held snap parliamentary elections, which were given green light after the inevitable breakup in the ranks of the Coalition of the Radical Left (Syriza): part of MPs of the ruling party refused to ratify the new memorandum with international lenders, suggesting loss of the parliamentary majority for Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and lack of support of his course. After this demarche, Tsipras was forced to step down in late August, and Greek President Prokopis Pavlopoulos had to set the date of the new parliamentary elections. In its turn, the seceded and most radical part of Syriza merged into an independent party, Popular Unity, under the leadership of Panagiotis Lafazanis, former Minister of Productive Reconstruction, Environment and Energy in Tsipras' Cabinet, an MP (Syriza).
19 different parties and coalitions took part in the parliamentary race that lasted exactly a month. However, only two competitors had chances for a real victory: the ruling Syriza Party led by former Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and the oppositional New Democracy Party under the acting leadership of Vangelis Meimarakis.
The elections ended with the following results: Syriza received 35.46% of vote, allowing it to occupy 145 seats in the Parliament (according to the Greek law, the winning party gets the so-called "winner's bonus" – additional 50 mandates). The second position was taken by New Democracy with 28.10% of vote (or 75 seats). Coming third was far-right party Golden Dawn (6.99% of vote, or 18 seats). The rest of the parties who made it to the Hellenic Parliament go as follows: PASOK got 17 seats (6.28%), the Communist Party of Greece – 15 seats (5.55%), The River – 11 seats (4.09%), Independent Greeks – 10 seats (3.69%), the Union of Centrists – 9 seats (3.43%). Other parties and coalitions running for parliament failed to pass the 3% election threshold. This includes the Popular Unity, the breakaway part of Syriza.
According to the results of the recent elections, the positions of New Democracy slightly solidified over the previous elections in January (+0.29 percentage points), while Syriza, on the contrary, dwindled (-0.88 percentage points). The position of other Greek parties saw little change.
In any case, throughout the short and quite intense autumn election campaign, Greeks were having a hard time choosing between leaders of the parliamentary race – Syriza and New Democracy – because both parties advocated continuation of austerity economy, further structural reforms and compliance with truly Draconian commitments assumed according to the deal with international creditors ratified in the summer of 2015. Before the elections, public surveys had suggested minimum disparity between the candidates, because over 15% of respondents had not made up their mind and had been reluctant to go to the polling stations. In any case, they were compelled to do it according to the law - a citizen skipping the elections without a legitimate excuse would be put to jail.
Syriza will form a government with its old partner, Independent Greeks (ANEL), headed by Panos Kammenos, who has already agreed to cooperate. Overall, the Syriza-ANEL coalition will form the needed majority in the Parliament (155 seats) at a minimum of 151 seats needed. Therefore, the new government will not represent a stark contrast to the government formed after the elections in January 2015. However, the question is whether this government would live through its full term, because the previous coalition lasted in its integral state for a very short span of time.
Incumbent Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras should be regarded as a very far-sighted strategist who pulled the necessary tactical maneuver in good time. In a situation, when many were predicting a downfall for his political career as a result of the drastic breakaway from previous electoral slogans (for instance, renunciation of the populist call for Greece's exit from the Eurozone and the European Union, should Athens be denied additional bailout tranches) and the final approval of an even tighter austerity policy than the previous government's one, Tsipras evaluated his position in the modern Greek policy correctly and calculated his chances of success precisely. In the absence of a real opponent, the victory at the snap parliamentary elections allowed Alexis Tsipras to receive a mandate from Greek people to continue his charted course and to officially legalize it. All that despite the unambiguous "No" vote given in the Greek bailout referendum of July 5, 2015. At the same time, the seceded part comprised of the most radical MPs of Syriza, which failed to reach the quorum in the attempt to enter the parliament as a new party under the old Syriza slogans, which pragmatic Tsipras eventually forewent, will not hinder the prime minister's further pursuit of the official line chosen and now approved by the majority. Moreover, the European Union needs a Greece headed by a rather predictable and obedient leader, at one with the common European position, because this Southern European state has turned out to be basically a gateway for illegal migrants. And the political stability and predictability along the EU boundaries and in Greece, which is now symbolized by Alexis Tsipras, is vital for all Europeans. Only time will show whether Tsipras would comply with the duties the European Union entrusted upon him and live up to the expectations of ordinary Greek people.