By Kiersten Meyers
The reelection of Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras came as a shock to many after August’s bailout deal between Greece and the European Central Bank. According to the New York Times, Tsipras won “an unexpectedly decisive victory in national elections” on September 20. Many found Tsipras’s agreement to the bailout deal shocking, considering his election platform was against the European Union’s austerity measures. Though the terms of the bailout would be harsh on Greece, the threat of being forced out of the eurozone would produce far worse results.
The bailout came after years of economic crisis, starting with the 2008 global recession. After the government admitted in 2009 that the deficit in Greece had been understated for years, creditors began to pull out of Greece, leading the country to the brink of bankruptcy. Many feared that Greece’s bankruptcy would be devastating to the eurozone. This reaction prompted leaders of the International Monetary Fund, the European Central Bank, and the European Commission to issue the first two international bailouts totaling more than 240 billion euros. These came with harsh conditions, including extreme budget cuts and higher taxes. The third bailout that Tspiras accepted came with even harsher conditions, but with banks closed for weeks and mass withdrawals causing limits on withdrawal amounts, there was little choice but to accept the terms.
Amid the economic turmoil and the controversial decisions made, there has also been political unrest. Tsipras called for a snap vote after inner-party turmoil led over fifty members of parliament belonging to the Syriza Party to break away and form Popular Unity.
The political unrest led many to question the outcome of the election, in part due to a seemingly even split between the two largest parties. This led many European leaders to fear losing the progress made with Greece after the implementation of the bailout. According to Politico, had Tsipras lost, many feared that he would be forced to argue in opposition to the bailout or be forced to join in a weak coalition.
Though Tsipras may have won the election by a surprising amount of support, the new opposition may cause more problems for progress. With only a slim majority in parliament, it is necessary to gain support from the newly formed opposition.
Even through this period of unrest and turmoil, the people of Greece continue to support Tsipras, Time Magazine reports. Many say that his reelection shows the people’s support of the bailout and indeed they do. Many citizens were pleased with the outcomes of the elections. One voter said, “He’s one of the best politicians to renegotiate the memorandum,” with another saying, “Tsipras is strong in his game.” Many voters believe that Tsipras is saving Greece and that he will bring back stability to the country.