The move to renegotiate the rescue package brings new uncertainty to Greece’s membership in the shared euro currency zone and reopens wounds that had scabbed over in the months since torturous negotiations concluded in February. If the country fails to implement promised measures and its international backers cut off the flow of money, the consequences could be even more painful, for Greece and for Europe as a whole.
Heightened fears about the euro zone’s financial future could drive Spain and Italy’s borrowing costs to crippling heights. Even rich countries such as Germany would be hard hit by the billions of dollars in losses they would take on loans made to Greece.
The vote was a stunning repudiation of the two political parties that have ruled Greece since the end of dictatorship here nearly 40 years ago. The pro-business New Democracy Party and the Socialists have traded power for decades. Now, a cacophony of new, skeptical voices will crowd the halls of parliament — including a far-right party called Golden Dawn, whose supporters celebrated Sunday night with flaming torches and the Nazi salute.
With 74 percent of the vote counted early Monday morning, New Democracy appeared to be in first place with 20 percent, a sharp drop from 33 percent in 2009 and its worst showing since the party was founded in 1974. The Socialists plummeted from 44 percent of the vote in 2009 to a likely third-place finish with 14 percent.
New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras said Sunday he would try to renegotiate the terms of the bailout and form a coalition of pro-European parties, not all of whom have committed to the austerity measures.
“We are ready to assume the responsibility of forming a national salvation government with two sole aims: to see Greece remain in the euro zone, and to modify the bailout policies in order to have growth and bring relief to Greek society,” Samaras told supporters Sunday night after polls closed.
The new power in the country appears to be an anti-bailout party called the Coalition of the Radical Left, which placed second with 16 percent of the vote. Party officials say the group supports Greece’s continued membership in the European Union and its use of the shared euro currency, but its leader said Sunday night that he would try to overturn the bailout.
Alexis Tsipras, 37, the leader of the party, said he wanted to “annul the memorandum of bankruptcy,” and called the bailout “barbaric.”