Paul Hanna / Reuters A worker peers over a campaign banner of leftist Syriza party leader Alexis Tsipras in Syntagma square in Athens, Greece, September 18, 2015.

Power to Our People

Syriza and the History of Greek Left-Wing Nationalism

In the parliamentary elections that took place in Greece on September 20th, Syriza yet again emerged victorious. In general, parties that asserted the importance of Greece remaining in the European Union won big: together, Syriza, the conservative New Democracy and Independent Greeks parties, and the centrist Potami (River) and Pasok parties brought in more than 70 percent of the vote. This outcome was not a foregone conclusion, however, especially after the referendum that took place on July 5, in which around 62 percent of the voters rejected further austerity measures. It was unclear whether, given the chance, the majority would endorse an exit from the eurozone or even from the EU—institutions that advocate the implementation of an even tighter fiscal policy in Greece. 

In this month’s snap election, Greek identity also played a large part in general and in the radical left’s platform in particular. Some radical left-wing organizations advocated a withdrawal from the eurozone in the face of pressure on Greece to accept further austerity. These organizations used nationalistic rhetoric to try to convince the electorate of their policy platforms. The Popular Unity party, which split from Syriza over Syriza leader Alexis Tsipras’ acceptance of the EU bailout deal, promised to restore national dignity by refusing to cave to creditors’ demands and by bringing back drachma, if necessary, once in office. Moreover, the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) offered the electorate a Greek exit from the European Union pending the party’s victory.

Supporters wave flags as former Greek prime minister and leader of leftist Syriza party Alexis Tsipras delivers his speech during the final campaign rally prior to Sunday's general elections on main Syntagma square in Athens, Greece, September 18, 2015.

Supporters wave flags as former Greek prime minister and leader of leftist Syriza party Alexis Tsipras delivers his speech during the final campaign rally prior to Sunday's general elections on main Syntagma square in Athens, Greece, September 18, 2015.

Nevertheless, radical left-wing nationalist rhetoric wasn't always coupled with Euroscepticism. Ahead of the vote, Syriza still presented itself as the radical left-wing party in the election even though it had fundamentally moderated its ideological profile by voting for the latest bailout package. Syriza whipped up nationalist fervor ahead

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