Sunday

23rd Sep 2018

Tsipras sworn in as Greek PM

  • Tsipras: became prime minister just hours after leading his far-left party to victory (Photo: europarl.europa.eu)

Just hours after bringing his far-left Syriza party to victory in the Greek elections, Alexis Tsipras has been appointed PM and shown that he is prepared to play hardball with eurozone fiscal hawks by choosing to team up with a right-wing anti-austerity party.

At 40 years of age, Tsipras is the youngest Greek PM in modern times and carries the huge weight of expectation of the around 36 percent of voters who brought him to power on promises of an end to the austerity which has crippled the country’s economy.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

If there was doubt in the rest of the eurozone about the strength of Tsipras’ anti-bailout rhetoric, he sought to put it to rest by indicating he will form a coalition with the Independent Greeks, a small populist right-wing party with little in common with Syriza except a hardline anti-austerity stance.

Syriza won 149 seats in the 300-seat parliament, two short to have an outright majority. The Independent Greeks won 13 seats.

Yanis Varoufakis, who is tipped to be finance minister, said Syriza had inherited a “poisoned chalice”.

He told BBC radio that Greece’s bailout repayments should be bound to its “recovery, not to our misery".

Other governments have, on the whole, reacted cautiously to the completely new political landscape in Greece, and the likely tough negotiations that are to follow with international creditors.

Berlin said it would work with the new government but emphasised that Greece should "respect" its committments.

Finnish PM Alex Stubb said Finns will “not accept a demand for debt cancellation”, while British leader David Cameron said he respects the Greek peoples' decision but that the country must deal with its debts.

The International Monetary Fund, one of Greece international creditors, took a tough line immediately.

Christine Legarde, IMF chief, told Le Monde that: "We cannot make special categories for such or such country".

She also called on Tsipras to tackle the judicial system and tax-collection, noting that this is not austerity but a matter of structural reforms.

Where to next?

While Tsipras initially took a much stronger line on what to do with the country's crippling debt - 175 percent of GDP - he moderated his language in recent weeks as a Syriza victory became more likely.

Greece has been given some concessions in the past, including extending the maturity of the debt and cutting the interest rate.

But ordinary Greeks have not felt any difference, amid tax hikes, wage cuts, and public service cuts that have pushed millions into poverty and seen the unemployment rate among the young shoot up to around 50 percent.

Meanwhile, Eurogroup chief Jeroen Dijsselbloem warned that there is little support for writing off Greece's debt.

"Writing off debt in nominal value? I don't think there is a lot of support for that in the Eurozone," he said ahead of a meeting of euro ministers on Monday evening.

But although the Greek government is taking shape with lightning speed, euro partners are waiting to see what the realities of being in power and working with the compromise-laden eurozone will mean in practice.

"We are not going to enter into the [negotiating] details today," said EU economic affairs commissioner Pierre Moscovici.

He said Monday's eurogroup meeting has to "give a strong signal that we want to start discussing with the new government".

Feature

Greece turns left: What next?

“First we take Athens and then we take Madrid” has become a regular slogan amongst Syriza supporters.

Who's in the new Greek cabinet?

The new Greek cabinet contains very wide-ranging ideologies and traditions, which will affect how the government is able to negotiate with Brussels and Berlin.

Poland to face EU top court on rule of law

The EU commission is expected to refer Poland to the EU's top court over firing supreme court judges, but Warsaw refused to commit on Tuesday that it will implement future EU court rulings.

EP triggers sanctions procedure, Hungary calls 'fraud'

The parliament launched a sanctions procedure against Hungary in an unprecedented vote that required a two-thirds majority from MEPs. Hungary is calling the vote a "fraud" and a "petty revenge" for its hardline migration policy.

EU parliament will not budge on office expenses

Hungarian centre-right MEP Livia Jaroka sticks to earlier decision: documents related to the minor reform of the expenses system, requested by EUobserver, should remain secret.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  2. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  3. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General
  4. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs.
  5. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  6. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  7. IPHRCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  8. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs
  9. Mission of China to the EUJointly Building Belt and Road Initiative Leads to a Better Future for All
  10. IPHRCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  11. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow

Latest News

  1. Brexit and MEPs expenses in the spotlight This WEEK
  2. Wake-up call on European Day Against Islamophobia
  3. Sound of discord at 'Sound of Music' Salzburg summit
  4. Salzburg summit presses for bigger Frontex mandate
  5. UK's post-Brexit plan 'will not work', EU says
  6. Airbnb agrees to clarify pricing for EU
  7. Libya keeps coast guards rejected by the EU
  8. EU divisions on menu at Salzburg dinner

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us