Greece elects neo-Nazis amid new fears for euro and Europe
After Hollande's victory in France, radical Greeks give a resounding no to austerity
VOTERS in Greece have emphatically rejected austerity, throwing the country's future into uncertainty, and threatening to plunge Europe back into economic chaos.
On the weekend that France elected an anti-austerity president in Francois Hollande, the Greeks delivered an even more powerful message. The two main parties, which support the harsh budget cuts imposed by the EU, polled less than a third of the vote, a radical left-wing coalition group, Syriza, came second overall and the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn won 21 seats.
The result in Greece has led to jitters in the markets, where the euro fell sharply on Monday, and has increased the pressure on Hollande to get off on the right foot with German Chancellor with Angela Merkel, who has lost her main ally in Europe in Nicolas Sarkozy.
Commentators are agreed that it will now be almost impossible for a Greek government to support the austerity measures.
"Weeks of uncertainty are likely to follow as numerous parties vie to cobble a majority coalition, with a fresh election within two months a distinct possibility," reports The Daily Telegraph.
Mark Lowen of the BBC says: "This country is now placed into a period of intense political instability - and by extension the eurozone as a whole... The success of the new-right Golden Dawn party indicates how comprehensive a rejection of the political mainstream, the bailout and austerity there has been."
The Times reports that the neo-Nazi group saw its support rocket from 0.23 per cent in the 2009 general election to seven per cent. The paper says its policies include putting landmines along Greece's borders to deter immigrants.
"Musclebound supporters forced journalists attending [leader Nikolaos Michaloliakos'] post-election press conference to stand as a mark of respect for their leader - prompting at least one to walk out," it adds.
The Guardian says that the results leave German Chancellor Angela Merkel isolated. "If Germany takes a tough line on Greece honouring the terms of its bailouts, it remains to be seen whether it will have Hollande's backing. Merkel could rely on Nicolas Sarkozy, but the balance of power in Europe shifted at the weekend and the political and psychological dynamics of managing the euro crisis also changed."