Greece's Left Wing Tries To Form A Government A left-wing coalition opposed to austerity measures has received the mandate to form a new government. But it's unclear whether Syriza, the party that finished second in Sunday's election, can cobble together a government, raising the prospect of yet another round of voting.

Greece's Left Wing Tries To Form A Government

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This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Melissa Block.


And I'm Audie Cornish.

We turn now to the political chaos in Greece. In Sunday's election, no party won enough seats to form a government, so each of the top three vote-getters has the opportunity to create a coalition. Yesterday, one party called New Democracy tried and failed. Today, the president gave the mandate to the coalition of the radical left, known as Syriza. It won nearly 17 percent of the vote from Greeks who reject austerity measures.

NPR's Sylvia Poggioli has more from Athens.

SYLVIA POGGIOLI BYLINE: After receiving the mandate, Syriza's young leader, Alexis Tsipras, called for a moratorium on Greece's debt repayments.

ALEXIS TSIPRAS: (Foreign language spoken)

BYLINE: He said the voters' verdict renders the bailout deal null and void. The statement sent shivers through global markets, but here in Greece it has deep resonance. Syriza came in second - the big surprise in an election that destroyed a four-decades-old entrenched two-party system.

Political analyst Stelios Kouloglou says that in a country where one million are out of work and youth unemployment is close to 50 percent, Greeks voted massively for the party that called that called German-dictated bailout terms barbaric.

STELIOS KOULOGLOU: And Syriza is a vote for a party that gives hope. Whether this hope is realistic or not, they don't care - it's hope.

BYLINE: Many observers outside Greece saw the vote punishing the pro-bailout parties as a biting-the-hand-that-feeds-you syndrome in a country on the verge of bankruptcy. But Nick Malkoutzis, deputy editor of the Kathimerini English-language daily, sitting in an Athens cafe, says when Greeks are told they're facing at least three more years of austerity and beyond that another decade of bad times, they feel they've got nothing to lose.

NICK MALKOUTZIS: You know, disposable income dropping 25 percent in a year, taxes going up by around 25 percent, unemployment doubling in a year, that's going to have an effect on society. It's going to have effect on people's desire to express themselves politically.

BYLINE: More than other Europeans, Malkoutzis says, Greeks believe the bailouts favored European banks.

MALKOUTZIS: A lot of people have become convinced that the European Union making a priority of saving banks and that taxpayers are paying the price of that.

BYLINE: After five years of recession, Sunday's election was the first time Greeks could pass judgment on economic policies that have devastated their lives.

Malkoutzis says the vote was a game-changer.

MALKOUTZIS: Whatever government we have, it will have to be one that challenges the terms of the bailout.

BYLINE: Analysts agree these elections did not produce a viable government, and the country seems headed towards another ballot in coming weeks. The goal of Alexis Tsipras, the leftist leader, is to forge a broader anti-austerity front that could come in first next time.

In the meantime, the country has entered a collision course with its creditors. But Maria Firogeni, who voted for Syriza, senses a new mood in Europe after the French elections, and hopes Greece will no longer be an international pariah.

MARIA FIROGENI: We believe that maybe things will change for all for Europe, and especially for us, because we are in a very bad position. We are the black sheep of Europe.

BYLINE: A very bad place to be, says Firogeni.

Sylvia Poggioli, NPR News, Athens.

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