Tuesday

23rd Jul 2019

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.

Macron: 14 EU states agree on a migration 'mechanism'

"The haggling around rescues in the Mediterranean has to be ended," German foreign minister Heiko Mass said after the Paris meeting on migration. However, details of Emmanuel Macron's 'solidarity mechanism' were not specific.

PiS & Fidesz claim credit for von der Leyen victory

Warsaw and Budapest are boasting about their support for von der Leyen after the german is confirmed only by a small margin of MEPs, but the illiberals should not expect the softening of rule of law scrutiny.

News in Brief

  1. Agriculture MEPs elect far-right vice-chair
  2. Johnson is next British prime minister
  3. Johnson set to be announced British PM on Tuesday
  4. UK-based owners of .eu domains could keep name
  5. Weyand: EU would respond to US tariffs on cars
  6. UK foreign office minister quits ahead of Johnson as PM
  7. AKK to boost Bundeswehr budget to Nato target
  8. Police arrest 25 after Polish LGBT-march attack

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021
  5. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  7. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  8. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  9. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  10. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  11. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North

Latest News

  1. Macron: 14 EU states agree on a migration 'mechanism'
  2. As Johnson set to become PM, ministers pledge to resign
  3. Poland's PiS prepares 'failsafe' for October election
  4. Abortion Wars
  5. EU goes on holiday as new UK PM arrives This WEEK
  6. Survey: Half of EU staff 'don't know' ethics rules
  7. Von der Leyen signals soft touch on migrants, rule of law
  8. Timmermans: von der Leyen will be tough on rule of law

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us