Europe's anti-austerity front hails Syriza win

GMT 21:16 2015 Monday ,26 January

Arab Today, arab today Europe's anti-austerity front hails Syriza win

Leader of Podemos Pablo Iglesias (C)
Madrid - AFP

Radical left party Syriza's victory in Greece's election was welcomed by anti-austerity movements across Europe Monday, led by Spain's Podemos, which vowed to also win power this year.
Populist left- and right-wing opposition parties from Britain and Ireland to France, Italy, Spain and Portugal hailed Syriza's win as a repudiation of the tough budget cuts imposed by their mainstream rivals in the recent economic crisis.
"Hope is coming, fear is fleeing. Syriza, Podemos, we will win," said Pablo Iglesias, leader of Podemos, which is riding high in opinion polls ahead of Spain's general  majority due in November.
Parties such as Podemos accuse German Chancellor Angela Merkel and other European leaders of forcing hardship on citizens through spending cuts and tax hikes in the crisis, which saw unemployment soar.
"We are advancing to a point where Mrs Merkel will be the one who is isolated," said Iglesias, who has campaigned alongside Syriza's leader Alexis Tsipras.
- UKIP, National Front hail Syriza -
The Greek result has put mainstream parties on their guard ahead of elections in several other countries this year, including Italy, Finland, Britain, Denmark and Portugal.
"Having their photograph taken with Syriza, Podemos are trying to get the reputation of winners as they aim for the general elections," said Anton Losada, a political scientist at the University of Santiago de Compostela in Spain.
"That feeds Pablo Iglesias's line that there is change afoot across southern Europe."
In Italy, Syriza's victory was welcomed by both the Five Star protest party and the anti-immigrant Northern League. They both back Italy's withdrawal from the euro and between them have the backing of about a third of Italy's voters.
Even Italy's governing Democratic Party shares some of Syriza's positions -- as do Portugal's opposition Socialists, whose leader Antonio Costa hailed the Greek result as "a sign of change in Europe".
Syriza's exploit also resonated further north, with the eurosceptic British party UKIP and France's far-right National Front.
UKIP leader Nigel Farage called it "a desperate cry for help from the Greek people, millions of whom have been impoverished by the euro experiment".
French National Front leader Marine Le Pen called it "a monstrous democratic slap in the face by the Greek people to the European Union".
Also in France, one of Syriza's left-wing allies, Left Front leader Jean-Luc Melenchon, hoped that "by a domino effect Europe will be refounded and reorganised in a completely different way".
Syriza's promise to take back control of Greece's financial affairs struck a chord among other bailed-out states.
"Syriza has promised to renegotiate Greece's debt... and to call for a European debt conference, which would be in Ireland's interests also," said Pearse Doherty, spokesman for Irish republican party Sinn Fein.
- 'Can't compare' Spain and Greece -
The arrival to power of a anti-austerity party has triggered warnings by economists of a potential return to the financial uncertainty that dogged the eurozone between 2008 and 2012.
A similar result in Spain which has a much bigger economy than Greece could cause far worse jitters.
Spain's government leapt to play down the parallels. Like Greek leaders, it imposed tough budget cuts during the economic crisis, and says the measures are now helping the economy recover.
"Greece cannot be compared to Spain," said Spain's Economy Minister Luis de Guindos in an interview published in the Spanish financial newspaper Expansion.
"Spain avoided being bailed out and that is the key to the economic recovery we are now undergoing."

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