The center surely didn't hold in the Greek elections. They've been dealing with some serious budget cutting as of late in order to get a huge deficit in order and keep in the EU's good graces, needing two elections in 2012 to get a workable coalition of the right-of center New Democracy and the mainstream socialist PASOK. The "austerity" budgets have helped create high (25% or so) unemployment and fostered the rise of an anti-austerity left wing Syriza party.
Syriza came in a close second in that second 2012 poll with 17% of the vote. Yesterday, they doubled that with a 36% showing. That was good for 99 of the 250 seats divvied up by proportional representation. Add the 50 seats that gets tacked on as a bonus to the plurality party and Syriza came up with 149 of the 300 seats, just short of a majority.
News of the morning has Syriza teaming up with the paleoconservative Greek Independents to form a majority. Note that these aren't the Naziesque Greek-supremacist Golden Dawn, The Indy-Greeks sound more like Pat Buchanan as Greek Orthodox by way of the UK Independence Party than straight-up bigots.
Culturally, the two get along about as well as Tea Partiers would get along with Occupy Wall Street folks, but they both have a common populist distrust of centralization of power. Syriza's new partners don't like the EU much and like the austerity cram-down even less, so they can form a working coalition for the moment.
New Democracy didn't do that badly, only 2% worse than 2012B. Syriza gained 9%, mostly out of the hide of PASOK, who came in 7th and last (among parties that broke the 3% seat-getting barrier) at 5%. There isn't a coherent pro-austerity majority to be had at this point, so, to borrow from Samizdata's evoking of Mencken, the Greek public will get what it wants....good and hard.
The new government will try to talk the EU and the European Central Bank into easing up on the austerity and giving them some forgiveness on their debt. However, doing so will encourage other countries to do likewise, with Spain first on that list with a Syriza-flavored Podemos party (they could have gone with Si Podemos and got the echos of Obama's "Yes, we can" down perfectly) poised to do well in their next national election.
We could well see Greece leave the EU in the next year or two if the rest of the EU isn't interested in big bailouts of their southern tier. It will be interesting geopolitics and international finance, bringing the creation of the Euro that started a quarter-century ago to an inflection point.
When I was taking my International Econ minor in grad school in the early 90s, the Maastricht Treaty that set up the framework for what became the Euro was news. The British were initially in the system, but opted to bail in 1992 when propping up the pound to keep it in synch with the other pre-Euro currencies was too much to handle.
Now, the Greeks are poised to do likewise two decades later, seeing the heirs of Maastricht being way too strict for them.