Tue, Sep 22, 2015 - Page 1 News List

Tsipras wins second mandate to run Greece

ANOTHER ROUND:The former prime minister’s SYRIZA party won at least 35.5 percent of the ballots cast in Sunday’s elections, but more than four in 10 Greeks did not vote

AP, ATHENS

Former Greek prime minister Alexis Tsipras, right, yesterday welcomes Independent Greeks party leader Panos Kammenos, left, to his SYRIZA party office in Athens.

Photo: AP

Former Greek prime minister Alexis Tsipras was set to receive the formal mandate yesterday to form a government for the second time, after his left-wing SYRIZA party unexpectedly won a decisive victory in early national elections.

SYRIZA’s victory in Sunday’s election marks a personal triumph for Tsipras, who served as prime minister between January and last month — a tumultuous period that saw Greece’s future in the 19-country eurozone come under real threat and strict banking controls imposed.

At 41, Tsipras dominates Greek politics despite a major policy U-turn that saw him go against the anti-austerity platform that swept him to power in elections in January in return for a multibillion euro bailout that keeps Greece in the eurozone.

Tsipras, who has seen off both the main, center-right opposition and his own party rebels, has said he will renew his pro-European coalition with the small, right-wing populist Independent Greeks (ANEL) party, which beat opinion polls to clear the 3 percent threshold required for representation in parliament.

His new government will have a small majority of just five seats.

With more than 99.7 percent of Sunday’s votes counted, Tsipras’ SYRIZA had 35.5 percent, while the center-right New Democracy trailed with 28.1 percent. However, in a sign of widespread discontent, more than four in 10 Greeks did not vote and the Nazi-inspired Golden Dawn remained the country’s third-strongest party with 7 percent.

Congratulating Tsipras, European Council President Donald Tusk yesterday said he hoped the election results “will now provide for the political stability necessary to face all the challenges at hand.”

As well as noting Greece’s own financial difficulties, Tusk highlighted the immigration crisis that Europe is struggling to deal with. Greece has registered 260,000 refugees and economic migrants this year alone.

The German government “will also work closely and in partnership with the new Greek government,” spokesman Steffen Seibert told reporters in Berlin.

“This doesn’t just concern overcoming the debt crisis together, it also concerns the challenges posed by the refugee situation,” he said.

Tsipras’ government policy is likely to be very different to his previous one after his decision to back Greece’s third international bailout in July. By doing so, Tsipras effectively abandoned his previous pledge to bring the austerity that Greece has endured for years to an end.

In return for the 86 billion euro (US$96.7 billion) bailout from its partners in the eurozone, his government will have to impose further austerity, as well as undertake a series of economic reforms. Some of those demands were already legislated before Tsipras’ resignation last month that triggered the early vote.

During the campaign, Tsipras said any government led by him would honor the bailout, but would seek improvements.

“We will soften certain elements of the agreement, without breaking our [bailout] commitments,’’ former Greek alternative minister of revenue Dimitris Mardas said yesterday.

European creditors are expected to review Greece’s reforms next month, while the government will also have to draft its state budget for next year. It must also oversee a critical bank recapitalization program, without which depositors with more than 100,000 euros in their accounts would likely be forced to contribute.

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