THE BLOG
01/27/2015 12:07 pm ET Updated Mar 29, 2015

Greek Elections: An Impressive Albeit Pyrrhic Victory for SYRIZA If It Can't Garner Broader EU Support

The outcome of Sunday's Greek general election is a clear victory of SYRIZA's young leader, Mr. Tsipras, over conservative PM Mr. Samaras and his coalition partner, Mr. Venizelos. At the same time it is the electorate's strong reaction to Greece still being used as "the canary in the coal mine" of the prevailing policies of the northern EU countries. Greeks didn't turn left overnight. They just got fed up.

From a local politics standpoint, yesterday's vote has two main interpretations:

First, it seems a goodbye/back-off vote to a political and media system that has bred corruption over decades, at the expense of much-needed, long-overdue reform. A few examples of this are the cover-up of the infamous Siemens 2-percent party and other unaccounted-for political kickbacks, German submarine- and armaments-procurement scandals, the legislative cover-up of over €250 billion in unsecured loans to political parties while constitutional statutes of limitation for government ministers remained in force. Mr. Tsipras was convincing, since his position on this was clear and has remained steady since 2009.

Second, the vote is considered a frail opportunity for a "new guy" to provide Greeks with hope -- hope sought desperately, particularly after the continuous and ineffective measures and austerity beating that Greeks have experienced over the past six years, measures that, instead of addressing the causes of Greece's mischief, keep on addressing just the symptoms. For instance, still over 20 percent of the state income is allocated to payment of "early pensions." Austerity has led to 26-percent unemployment, massive brain drain, a 25-percent drop in GDP, skyrocketing public debt and other effects. Ineffective and secondary reform accelerated the disintegration of social cohesion and failed to restore the confidence of international investors. Since the old mix didn't seem to work, Greeks chose to try the only alternative available.

From an EU policy standpoint SYRIZA's victory, unless supported by other EU member states, may end as an impressive albeit Pyrrhic victory.

The new Greek PM seems to seek a renegotiation within a reformed Europe. This is also the target of the outgoing UK government. Still, to date, Mr. Tsipras' strongest EU allies seem to be the Italian PM and the Spanish "Podemos" movement.

The Greek electorate has demonstrated an impressive endurance through a six-year-long, unreasonable, and ineffective tax and austerity onslaught. Both of the mainstream political parties overlooked the electorate's disgust of impunity, party cronyism and slow, ineffective reform. EU citizens, at the same time, are witnessing the ailing of Europe, as described by the EU forefathers, mainly due to shortsighted, politically driven EU leaders and the inefficiency of EU institutions.

Greece's and Europe's long-term best interests require the kind of reform that Greek governments have failed to pursue. And neither Mr. Tsipras nor any other individual leader or single country can be expected to contribute to such a policy shift without quick, clear and strong EU and social alliances.