Is Greece’s new PM Alexis Tsipras the man to avert further Greek tragedies?

BY Fraser Tennant

Elected earlier this week on an anti-austerity ticket, the new Greek prime minister, Alexis Tsipras, is a man who does not have problems to seek.

Prior to his appointment, Greece’s new man in charge had promised to raise the country’s minimum wage, create 300,000 new jobs, end the crippling austerity measures, and provide free food and electricity for those unable to afford it.

To tackle these, Tsipras has announced a series of measures which clearly state his intention to continue the anti-austerity pledges that saw his Syriza party triumph in this week's election.

Mr Tsipras’s demeanour during his first few days in office has been a mixture of defiance and reassurance. During his first cabinet meeting the new PM wasted little time in putting his pre-election, anti-austerity pledges into practice. He said “We are coming in to radically change the way that policies and administration are conducted in this country.”

Among a series of proposals, the new prime minister has announced plans to: (i) halt the privatisation agenda agreed under the country's bailout deal (this includes the sale of a stake in the country's largest electricity company, Public Power Corporation of Greece (PPC)); (ii) reinstate public sector employees judged to have been laid off without proper justification; and (iii) increase pension payments for retired people on low incomes.

Mr Tsipras and his team of anti-austerity ministers have already promised to negotiate with international creditors over Greece’s €240bn (£179bn/$270bn) bailout.

Naturally, the suggestion that Greece is looking to renegotiate its debt austerity package has not gone down well in the rest of Europe, especially Germany, which responded quickly to say that it had no intention of renegotiating the aid package that was agreed to help Greece pay off its massive debts. 

 “Since the beginning of the crisis, the goal has been to stabilise the whole of the Eurozone, including Greece, and that remains the goal of our work," said Steffen Siebert, a spokesman for the German government.

With Greece’s financial markets reacting with alarm to its new government’s anti-bailout agenda (the Athens Stock Exchange (ASE) lost more than 9 percent this week); the pressure is growing and the clock ticking for Mr Tsipras ahead of his first European summit in two weeks’ time.

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