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Greece: Europe’s Wildcard

The popularity of Greece’s anti-austerity, Russia-friendly, casual wear-embracing Syriza party could make the E.U. very interesting in coming months.

Alexis Tsipras. Photo by Lorenzo Gaudenzi via Wikimedia Commons

Ever since their election at the end of January, Greece’s new government, a coalition of the left-wing Syriza and right-wing Independent Greeks parties, led by Syriza Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, has been making waves in the European press. Most of this coverage concerns the new government’s stringent resistance to austerity measures imposed on them by lenders who bailed them out of the European Union’s worst financial crisis and floated them through six years of recession. The Tsipras regime’s hardline anti-austerity and novel financial plans have painted his cabinet as wildcards, threatening to upend Europe’s financial order and re-stoking fears of a Greek exit from the eurozone. Tsipras and his coalition abandoning the Euro and leaving the union would likely have detrimental, extremely stressful effects on the E.U., both economically and politically, and leaders like Angela Merkel, chancellor of Germany, have been aggressive about keeping Greece in the fold (on E.U. terms). Yet while it’s true that this new regime will shake things up on the European markets, what’s flown under the radar is the fact that this new government is stacked with mavericks and mavens in every sense, economic and beyond, and their intense popularity at home and abroad may alter the whole of European political culture and E.U. norms.

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