Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Greece election: Syriza leader Alexis Tsipras sworn in as prime minister, forms coalition government with Independent Greeks


New Greek PM Alexis Tsipras at ceremony for slain Greek resistance fighters Photo: Alexis Tsipras at a ceremony at the Kessariani shooting range site, where hundreds of members of the Greek Resistance were executed by Nazi forces during World War II, on January 26 (Reuters/Alkis Konstantinidis)

Related Story: Outgoing Greek PM concedes election defeat

Map: Greece

Greece's new left-wing leader Alexis Tsipras has been sworn in as prime minister after agreeing to create a coalition with a right-wing party to form a new hard-line, anti-bailout government and end nearly five years of austerity measures.

At the age of 40, he becomes the youngest Greek prime minister in 150 years.


Raw Greek emotion

Couples stood with their arms around each other. A father hugged his son to him.
Young men bunched together with the red Syriza flags wrapped around their shoulders.
They were all crammed in the square outside the University of Athens, listening intently to Alexis Tsipras, the man who has connected with their years of frustration, and fashioned a stunning political win for the radical left.
What was notable on this day was not just the joy felt by long-ignored left-wing advocates, dancing around strewn political leaflets in central Athens until the early morning.
What struck me was how many times people who said they didn't normally vote left-wing wanted a return to "humanity".
Austerity had stripped them of this, they said. Echoing Alexis Tsipras, they say this win is giving them hope that dignity will return to Greece.
Brussels will soon learn how strongly a nation that feels humiliated can kick back.
By Europe Correspondent Mary Gearin

Mr Tsipras, characteristically without a tie, also broke with tradition by taking a civil instead of a religious oath, pledging to "always serve the interests of the Greek people".

The new leader started talks with his potential coalition partners the day after the election, with his Syriza party just two seats short of what was needed to be able to rule in its own right.

Independent Greeks party leader Panos Kammenos emerged from a meeting with Mr Tsipras announcing the two parties had agreed to form a coalition government.

"From this moment on there is a government, we will give a vote of confidence to the new prime minister," Mr Kammenos said.

While their positions on many social issues are at odds, both parties are vehemently opposed to the austerity program imposed on Greece by its European creditors.

After his victory, Mr Tsipras repeated his campaign pledge to renegotiate the terms of Greece's 240-billion-euro bailout with the European Union and the International Monetary Fund, which many Greeks blame for exacerbating the economic hardship the country has endured since the financial crisis.

Those creditors are watching and waiting as they consider how to negotiate with Greece's new leaders.

Euro-zone leaders urge Greece to uphold prior agreements

Closely watching the election, Europe's bureaucrats have been adamant that Greece needs to keep to its bailout deal.

Euro group chief Jeroen Dijsselbloem warned Greece that its euro membership depended on Athens sticking to prior agreements, after the radical left Syriza party won elections with a vow to renegotiate its debts.

"Membership of the Eurozone means that you comply with everything you have agreed with," Mr Dijsselbloem said as he arrived for talks of Eurozone finance ministers in Brussels.

"On that basis, we're ready to work with them."

The Greek election win for anti-austerity party Syriza could help Italy's push for greater flexibility in the European Union's approach to budget and broader economic issues according to Italy's foreign minister Paolo Gentiloni.


Greek prime minister Alex Tsipras is sworn in
Alexis Tsipras (r) shakes hands with Greek president Karolos Papoulias during his swearing-in ceremony
"There has been a tug of war for months between austerity and flexibility," he said.

"There is no doubt the Greek result, if politically managed by Greece and the European Union with realistic and flexible negotiations, favours the call for an end to the inflexibility we Italians have been making."

Meanwhile, German chancellor Angela Merkel said she expects the new Greek government to uphold its commitments to international creditors, her spokesman said.

"In our view it is important for the new government to take action to foster Greece's continued economic recovery," the spokesman, Steffen Seibert, told reporters.

"That also means Greece sticking to its previous commitments."

British prime minister David Cameron wants Greece's new government to keep tackling the country's budget deficit and to meet its international commitments, his spokeswoman said.

"The prime minister respects the decision of the Greek people but obviously there are questions for the Eurozone and for Greece about how they deliver on their commitments," his spokeswoman said.

"Spending more on public finances is not proven to be driving growth in Greece or indeed in other European countries so it needs to continue to deal with its deficit and it needs to meet its international commitments."

Spain's conservative prime minister Mariano Rajoy also weighed in, congratulating Mr Tsipras and hoping for a "stable" government.

"I hope the election result leads to the forming of a stable government committed to the program of European integration that Greece and Spain share," Mr Rajoy wrote.


From other news sites:

Greece election: Syriza leader Alexis Tsipras sworn in as prime minister, forms coalition government with Independent Greeks - ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)