Syriza has just won the elections in Greece. A radical left party, which won barely 4.6% of the vote in 2009, has defeated New Democracy, the far right government who has been in power since 2012.
This day is likely to change the shape and future of Europe. Whether or not you endorse the politics of Syriza, it is the leader in a wave of political parties and forces that belong to a new European left. The driving force behind this kick-back against austerity, placing politics and power before the dictates of the economy, is a new demographic that has taken shape over the past five years.
We are calling this demographic the precariat. In Greece, the young and the traditional working class have been joined by the masses of people of all ages forced into a precarious existence, as unemployment, underemployment, and insecurity of work and life have increased with austerity.
In our audio report, we examined how and why Syriza stopped being just a protest party for the young and became the de facto party of the precariat. We believe that Greece is just the start. In these pages, we have been attempting to put on paper, the forces that will reshape European politics and societies.
With Podemos polling first in Spain, and the Italian left waiting in the wings, the hopes of a Europe that breaks the austerity mould are pinned on Syriza and its leader Alexis Tsipras. These are the hopes of the new precariat, who want to see politics and people trump the dictats of the economy.
Syriza’s is not just a promise to re-negotiate Greece’s debt. Their mandate is a return to social justice. In the streets, the people of Greece know that their income will not be returned to its previous levels in the short-term, or the medium-term. Most cite a return to dignity as their main reason for turning to Syriza and rejecting the traditional parties. If this dignity cannot be delivered within the Euro, the allegiances of this new electorate to Europe, the currency and other institutions, should not be taken for granted.
The European landscape is about to change. This result shows us just how quick that change can be. We have still to see whether they will win. But this is for certain: the precariat is striking back.