Tsipras
Syriza leader Alexis Tsipras greets supporters following victory in the election in Athens on January 25, 2015. Greece is 'leaving behind disastrous austerity' and the so-called troika of creditors 'is finished', Syriza leader Alexis Tsipras said after his party won the general election.Getty Images

This week's political agenda has been dominated by the Greek elections, following the victory of left-wing party Syriza and their subsequent alliance with Anel, a party on the opposite side of political spectrum. The election has far-reaching ramifications for both Greece and Europe, particularly given the far-right views espoused by Anel and the possibility that Greece will default on its debt to the Troika.

Here Dr Eirini Karamouzi, an expert on Modern Greek and European history at the University of Sheffield, analyses the key issues and explains the thinking behind this most unlikely coalition.

It seems paradoxical that a leftist party such as Syriza would unite in government with the Independent Greeks, a far-right nationalist, homophobic, anti-Semitic, hard-core Christian orthodox party that claimed that the EU has sprayed chemicals on the Greeks to sedate them to accept austerity measures.

They are worlds apart ideologically, as Yanis Varoufakis, the future finance minister from Syriza acknowledged when he said: 'In terms of social issues, foreign affairs, civil liberties, we are chalk and cheese.'

The swiftness with which Tsipras and Kamenos came to the agreement, however, showcases the appeal and strength of the anti-austerity, anti-memorandum front that has brought down old, established ideological divides.

It also comes to show that Syriza had only one item on the agenda, and that is debt relief at all costs (at least that what was proclaimed in the electoral period), which in turn means a full head-on collision course with Europe.

In such a context, if Syriza wants to play hard ball, it needs at least to look the part of the unyielding negotiator and having Anel on its side does the trick, but Syriza is playing with fire for the sake of power politics.

A supporter of Greece's far-right Golden Dawn wears a national flag on his back during a rally in front of the Greek Parliament in Athens
Greece has already witnessed numerous far-right demonstrations, led by Golden Dawn.Reuters

'The hope is that it will shock Europe into scrapping austerity'

Syriza's electoral victory has been welcomed as an unparalleled opportunity for both Greece and Europe.

Indeed, the vote for Syriza, besides an anti-austerity vote, was a clear rejection of the corrupt Greek oligarchic political system of the last 40 years, and its ascension to leadership may herald the beginning of badly needed reforms in areas like judiciary and taxation.

On the European scene, the hope is that it will spread shockwaves across Europe and force the continent's political elites, especially Germany, to do away with austerity and its devastating effect on the societies.

Even if Berlin saw the errors of its ways, writing off the Greek debt would have huge political repercussions with endless spill-over effects, and thus is an improbable scenario for the near future at least.

Therefore, the situation that confronts both Tsipras and Eurozone leaders is rather daunting and not so promising, making me believe that the bubble of euphoria can easily burst. Tsipras, with his Thessaloniki programme and populist electoral promises, has raised the bar too high, putting himself between a rock and a hard place.

The optimistic scenario and what a majority of Greek public opinion, as well as Syriza, voters hope is that within months, if not even weeks, Tsipras will be granted some concessions, thus will perform a manageable U-turn and reinvent himself as a social democrat, guaranteeing the political stabilisation of the country and taking advantage of the improved economic outlook, aided by the ECB'S latest generous monetary policies and lower oil prices.

The threat in this scenario would be his inability to carry his party with him with the radical die hard Marxist groups, abandoning the coalition, unconvinced with such policies. It will demand diplomatic manoeuvres and masterful tactics.

The second scenario entails the prospect of Syriza confronting head-on the Troika, hitting its head against the wall, and thus taking the issue back to the Greek public in the form of the plebiscite, in which case the 'Grexit' scenario will come back with vengeance.

You can find out more about Dr Karamouzi by visiting her staff page at the University of Sheffield. She has also written books about Greece and the EU, which can be found on Amazon.

IBTimes thanks the University of Sheffield for providing Dr Karamouzi's analysis.