* Left Coalition scores big surprise in Greek election
* Topples socialist PASOK scoring second place
By George Georgiopoulos
ATHENS, May 6 Greece's youngest political leader
Alexis Tsipras was the big beneficiary of Sunday's national
election as austerity-fatigued voters catapulted his Left
Coalition party towards second place.
Tsipras, 37, benefited from a stinging electoral rejection
of conservative New Democracy and socialist PASOK, the two
parties that dominated Greek politics since the fall of the
junta in 1974.
Opinion polls indicated that his party had a good chance of
coming third in the race but overtaking PASOK delivered the
political earthquake Tsipras was hoping for.
However, his goal of a united left front to halt austerity
policies under a bailout still looks out of reach.
With almost 37 percent of the vote counted, the Left
Coalition had 15.8 percent, on course to follow New Democracy
with 20.3. PASOK trailed on 14 percent.
Riding a wave of discontent, Tsipras had called the bailout
or bust ultimatum thrown down by mainstream parties a scare
tactic to force people to accept painful cuts in pay and
"With their vote, Greek people gave their mandate for a new
day in our country, without the cruel bailout measures. They
want solidarity and justice," he said on Sunday. "The parties
which signed the bailout without the Greek people's consent are
now a minority."
Tsipras's appeal to the KKE communists, the Democratic Left
and others to team up to vote out policies driving Greeks into
poverty had no takers. He had gone as far as to offer the office
of prime minister to the head of the KKE.
Sunday's outcome may weaken the resistance of the Democratic
Left as political leaders contemplate the day after and the
possibility of forming a unity government.
A cool, mild mannered politician who shuns neck ties and
likes to get around on his motorcycle, Tsipras takes the gloves
off in parliament and has been a fiery orator, railing against
Often blamed by the socialists for inciting violent
protests, he had promised to freeze payments to creditors and
renegotiate measures included in Greece's latest 130 billion
euro rescue package.
Born four days after the fall of Greece's military
dictatorship in July 1974, Tsipras became leader of the Left
Coalition in 2008 and was elected to parliament in 2009. He
first emerged on the political scene in 2006 when he scored
third place in the Athens mayoral race.
People who know him well say he is a perfectionist.