Newly elected Greek Prime Minister looks to make major changes
By Amanda Kochanowski
On Jan. 26, a shocking result to the election of Prime Minister in Greece was revealed. Newly elected Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has led the Coalition of the Radical Left, also known as Syriza, since 2009. Tsipras is the sixth new Prime Minister for the country since 2005.
The victory was one that no one expected. Tsipras’s election marks the first time since 1974 that either the New Democracy Party or the PASOK GROUP, a center-left party, does not control the government of Greece.
Syriza’s desire to make major changes to Greece’s government is what makes them radical. The far left group hopes to make their mark by giving more power to the people and overcoming obstacles that Greece has been faced with after they were hit hard with the great recession in 2008.
While Tsipras is part of this very radical political group, conservative citizens opted to vote him in after seeing higher taxes and less income from previous leaders. Tsipras included points in his campaign such as promising to lower taxes and raising the minimum wage, as well as renegotiating the country’s debt. Greece’s debt problem is sure to be one of the first things Tsipras tries to change.
“Tsipras’s proposals may be popular, but they are not economically sensible. Investment from EU nations in Greece will probably decline until trade stability is reestablished,” said Schoolcraft Professor Michael Swope.
While the European Union provided a bailout for Greece in 2010, Tsipras is looking for a write-off of at least half of the country’s debt. The decision whether or not to extend the bailout must be made by Feb. 28.
“Our manifesto, known as the Thessaloniki program, contains a set of fiscally balanced short-term measures to mitigate the humanitarian crisis, restart the economy and get people back to work,” says Tsipras.
Talks about Greece leaving the European Union have begun. If an agreement cannot be reached, Greece will abandon the Euro and establish its own currency. News portals have begun to refer to the plan as the “Grexit.”
Rejecting the bailout and becoming monetarily independent would send huge shocks across the entire continent. Countries that have taken this path in the past have seen dramatic inflation.
This will also cause tension among the countries, and have a huge impact on trade.
“Elections change nothing. There are rules,” says German finance minister Wolfgang Schaeuble. The EU hopes to hold Greece to the original agreements of the bailout.
While most of Europe seems to be against Syriza’s plans, leaders of other far left groups are rejoicing. Spanish group Podemos and its leader Pablo Iglesias have similar desires to those of Tsipras. “Change in Greece is called Syriza. And change in Spain is called Podemos. Hope is on the way,” says Iglesias.