As former Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras's Syriza party narrowly won the most votes in the snap elections at 35.5 percent, European citizens, journalists and politicians alike took to social media, some with hope and many with skepticism concerning the former government's ability to lead. Politicians expressed their congratulations to Tsipras and his party, though the buzz on Twitter and other media platforms was a far cry from the jubilant celebration following Syriza's first win in January.
Syriza rocketed to power in January as an opposition party to the ruling New Democracy party and gained immense popularity with the Greek people by opposing austerity measures such as deep budget cuts, high taxes and reduced social spending in exchange for European bailout money. After campaigning on this anti-austerity platform, Tsipras was criticized for betraying his party and its supporters after he continued to compromise on the terms of the bailout deal and eventually took a third bailout that demanded even stricter austerity. Tsipras resigned in August amid splintering within his own party, triggering parliamentary elections.
The snap elections Sunday were the sixth in nearly as many years, and Greeks expressed exasperation with the government. Political analysts' fears were confirmed when many citizens abstained from voting. Initial estimates put the rate of abstention as high as 45 percent, making it one of the lowest citizen turnouts in the history of modern Greek elections. The "winner is abstention," wrote one Twitter user, taking a jab at the tenuousness of Syriza's win.
RT @BrunoTersago: #Greece #Elections winner is abstention: 46% of polling stations counted so far, did not show up
— (@AntaeusX25G) Sep 20 2015
Several political leaders from around Europe were more optimistic about what a Syriza win would mean not only for Greece but for the rest of the European Union. French President François Hollande, who has been one of the key orchestrators of Greece's bailout deals with European lenders, added his congratulations, telling reporters: "Greece will have a period of stability with a solid majority."
Martin Schulz, president of the European Parliament, congratulated Syriza on Sunday's win in a Tweet posted from his official account. After congratulating the party and Tsipras, Schulz wrote: "Now a solid government ready to deliver is needed quickly."
RT @EP_President: I've just congratulated @tsipras_eu for #Syriza victory in #Greece elections. Now a solid government ready to deliver is …
— (@manos360i) Sep 20 2015
Other commentators were more sobering. Stefan Leifert, a Belgian journalist, posted the following reaction to his verified Twitter, saying it was "better to have Alexis Tsipras at head of government than as opposition leader."
RT @StefanLeifert: Brussels reactions to greek elections come down to this: Better to have Alexis Tsipras at head of gouvernment than as op…
— (@NickMalkoutzis) Sep 20 2015
Since Syriza did not win an outright majority, it plans to form a coalition with the small, right-wing party Independent Greeks, Reuters reported Saturday. Independent Greeks, which won 3.7 percent of the vote Sunday, was part of Syriza's original coalition in January.