Political parties supporting austerity measures will be able to form a
slim coalition government in Greece, according to early exit polls from
the elections released on Sunday night.
Several polls predicted
New Democracy, a center-right party, won the election, receiving between
28.6 to 30 percent of the vote, while SYRIZA, a far-left coalition, came
a close second garnering between 27-29%.
PASOK, the center-left
party expected to be New Democracy’s ally in implementing austerity
measures imposed by the European Union, received between 11- 12.5% of
the popular vote.
Golden Dawn, a far-right party whose leader
denied the Holocaust, received around 7%, roughly the same as the last
elections in May.
Because of a 50-seat bonus given to the party
which comes in first, that predicted result would give New Democracy and
PASOK a projected 159 seats in the 300- seat parliament, in an alliance
committed to a 130 billion euro ($164 billion) EU/IMF bailout keeping
the country from bankruptcy.
SYRIZA, led by a 37-year-old former
communist, has vowed to tear up the punishing terms of the deal,
potentially sending the country crashing out of Europe’s single currency
and rocking the euro to its core.
The predicted triumph of the
pro-bailout bloc was expected to be received with relief in many
European capitals as well as in Jerusalem, whose close ties with Athens
might have suffered if SYRIZA had won.
Earlier this month, the
leftist group released a foreign relations manifesto in which it vowed
to cease Greece’s military cooperation with Israel and criticized the
Jewish state’s regional policies.
“Besides the total and
unequivocal opposition to military cooperation between Greece and
Israel, we must work effectively to cancel this agreement and directly
or indirectly prevent a potential war with Iran and in the Arab world,”
the manifesto stated, according to local media.
Later in the
text, the party calls for Israel’s withdrawal from “occupied Palestinian
territories and the territories of Syria and Lebanon,” and the creation
of a Palestinian state with its capital in east Jerusalem.
a loose coalition whose disparate components belong to a broad range of
individuals associated with the European Left, tends to be critical of
Israel and allied with the Palestinians. Some senior members
participated in the 2010 flotilla to Gaza, when nine Turkish activists
were killed in a takeover of a ship by Israeli commandos, a Greek Jewish
Meanwhile, Jews in Greece on Sunday were following the elections closely for different reasons.
Greek Jews, which number about 5,000 people and are based mostly in
Athens and Thessaloniki, worry that an even deeper recession than the
one the country is going through now might pose an existential threat to
Earlier this year Jewish leaders in Athens had
to ask for a bailout from brethren abroad to prevent the closure of the
only Jewish school in the capital.
The American Jewish Joint
Distribution Committee (JDC), Jewish Agency for Israel, the Conference
on Material Claims Against Germany and the American Jewish Committee,
among others, responded by channeling hundreds of thousands of dollars
each to help the cashstrapped community.
Said Alberto Sandery of
JDC via phone from New York: “We don’t react like this when there’s some
normal financial downturn – only when it’s dramatic the way it was in
Argentina 10 years ago, or the way it is in Greece now.”
Meanwhile, many Greek Jews have left the country in search of better job opportunities or are considering doing so.
Kapon, a school teacher in Athens born in Thessaloniki, said last week
many of her Jewish friends were weighing their options overseas.
course, Israel is in our DNA and for me that’s the only option,” she
said. “But the other popular destinations, especially for those who
don’t want to learn a new language [because most Greek Jews already
speak English], is Britain.”
Shay Ferber, the Jewish Agency for
Israel official tasked with coordinating its operations in Greece, last
week said his organization was prepared to help Jews make aliya.
another cause of concern for Greek Jews has been the rapid rise in
popularity of Golden Dawn, a far-right party whose emblem resembles a
swastika. It received 6.97% of the popular vote in the last election in
“When one knows their views it makes us very, very worried –
not only as Jews but as Greeks in general – because their views are
extreme,” said Sakis Leon, the secretary-general of the Jewish community
of Athens, last week. “So it does worry us a lot and it makes us think
that the whole political spectrum now is different. We are watching the