Greece’s main opposition party Syriza is celebrating after recording a historic first in local elections.
The radical anti-austerity group fared strongly, making it into the second round of the contest for Athens and the surrounding region, for the first time ever.
Its supporters believe the result is a taste of things to come in this week’s European Parliament vote.
“Syriza is our hope, our only hope if we are to take back what was taken away from us,” said one woman at a party rally.
Sentiments shared by another supporter: “Syriza is the new thing, our own thing. It’s a movement where we are the protagonists and not the supporting cast.”
Critics say Syriza’s strategy of casting the local and EU elections as a referendum on the ruling coalition’s austerity policies is paying dividends.
Dimitris Tsiodras is a political analyst for Skai TV and Katherimini newspaper: “Ever since the center-right and the socialists formed their ruling coalition, SYRIZA has became the principal critic of their policies. But besides from being just a voice of protest, it is trying to lay out a convincing policy platform as to persuade the voters that it can also govern the country.”
Our correspondent in Athens says even though the two ruling coalition parties fared well in the remaining 12 regions, Syriza’s showing is very significant.
“For the first time in Greek politics, a party to the left of the socialists appears close to winning in the European parliament and possibly even the national elections.” says Stamatis Giannis.
“To achieve that however, it will have to overcome its internal differences as well as gain additional support from otherwise traditional voters of neighbouring political forces, both from the center-left and from the communists.”