ALEXIS Tsipras is set to form a government for the second time this year, after his left-wing Syriza party unexpectedly won a decisive victory in Greek early national elections.
His victory in Sunday’s election marks a personal triumph for Tsipras, who served as prime minister between January and August - a 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 multi-billion bailout that keeps Greece in the eurozone. Tsipras, who has seen off both the main, centre-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 three per cent threshold required for representation in parliament.
The new government will have a small majority of just five seats but, according to Tsipras, is aiming to see out a four-year mandate.
“We now have the great opportunity, taking steady steps and using the four years of our mandate, to implement our main commitment, which is to give an honest fight and to shed our blood if necessary to stop our people bleeding further,” he said after a meeting with ANEL leader Panos Kammenos.
Kammenos himself promised a “progressive” administration that would build on the previous coalition’s work, adding that the cabinet would be announced by tomorrow morning at the latest.
The final count of Sunday’s votes gave Tsipras’ Syriza 35.5 per cent, while the centre-right New Democracy trailed with 28.1 percent.
But in a sign of widespread discontent, more than four in 10 Greeks didn’t vote and the right-wing Golden Dawn remained the country’s third-strongest party with 7 per cent.
European Union President Donald Tusk 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.
And the German government “will also work closely and in partnership with the new Greek government,” spokesman Steffen Seibert told reporters in Berlin.
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 bailout, his government will have to impose further austerity as well as undertake a series of economic reforms.