Monday, June 18, 2012

Syriza hails its advance despite defeat

by Joshua Chaffin

Financial Times

June 17, 2012

Although beaten into second place in Greece’s most important election since the restoration of democracy in 1974, supporters of the leftwing Syriza coalition greeted their group’s strong election showing as a glorious victory.

As they waited for Alexis Tsipras, their young charismatic leader, the crowd of Syriza supporters in central Athens broke into celebration, waving red-and-white banners, chanting and singing along to anthems of Mikis Theodorakis, the 1960s songwriter and musician who gave voice to the resistance against the country’s military dictatorship.

A collection of leftists from as far afield as Australia and Venezuela – with Zapatista T-shirts, plentiful facial hair and a bent for black – mingled in the warm evening air, their mood helped along by a makeshift bar selling beer at recession-friendly prices.

In a nearby doorway, a man sat in plain view with a needle plunged into his bleeding arm – a reminder of the increasingly common scenes of misery in the Greek capital that have helped to fuel Syriza’s rise.


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