Date
16 December 2017
Alexis Tsipras signs a book as he is sworn in as Greek prime minister. He lost no time digging in on Greece's mounting debt. Photo: Bloomberg
Alexis Tsipras signs a book as he is sworn in as Greek prime minister. He lost no time digging in on Greece's mounting debt. Photo: Bloomberg

Athens and creditors dig in on Greek debt

Greece and its international creditors quickly went to work over economic reform and debt after Alexis Tsipras, leader of the radical leftwing Syriza party, was sworn in Monday as prime minister.

Tsipras dismayed European Union governments that oppose extensive debt relief for Greece by moving swiftly to form a coalition with the Independent Greeks, a small, rightwing party that is as fiercely opposed as Syriza to the strict conditions attached to the nation’s 245 billion euro (US$275.47 billion) bailout, the Financial Times reported.

Tsipras led Syriza to a resounding victory in parliamentary elections on Sunday but fell two seats short of an absolute majority in the 300-seat legislature.

The new ruling coalition will control 162 seats, with 149 for Syriza and 13 for the junior party.

The Syriza leader was sworn in as prime minister by President Karolos Papoulias, taking a civil oath as a self-avowed atheist rather than holding a bible, and was given three days to form a government.

A party official said the cabinet might be announced soon.

Political analysts and economists said Tsipras’s unusual choice of coalition partner was unlikely to go down well in Berlin, coming less than a week after the European Central Bank upset large parts of the German political and financial establishment by committing itself to large-scale eurozone government bond purchases.

“The formation of a Syriza-led, anti-austerity and nationalist government in Greece is a red rag to the German bull,” commented Nicholas Spiro of Spiro Sovereign Strategy, a London-based consultancy.

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