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GREECE

In pictures: Greek voters reject austerity in defiance of EU

Mehdi Chebil/FRANCE 24
4 min

Greece’s radical-left Syriza swept to power on Sunday on a promise to end the painful belt-tightening policies imposed on the country by its EU partners.

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The party celebrated its rejection of the austerity-imposing troika – the International Monetary Fund, the European Commission and the European Central Bank – by playing The Clash’s defiant hit “Rock the Casbah” at full pelt in front of euphoric crowds.

Supporters did not wait for the final results before celebrating in central Athens, where Syriza’s charismatic leader, Alexis Tsipras, gave his victory speech.

“Greece leaves behind catastrophic austerity, it leaves behind fear and authoritarianism, it leaves behind five years of humiliation and pain,” Tsipras, 40, told the crowd of several thousand.

Syriza's pledge to end the belt-tightening resonated with voters worn down by steep budget cuts and heavy tax rises imposed by Greece's creditors.

The drastic cure imposed on the eurozone's weakest economy sent unemployment over 25 percent, slashed household incomes by a third and pushed millions into poverty.

Tsipras aims to move swiftly to create the first eurozone government elected to undo the policies of strict budgetary rigour that German Chancellor Angela Merkel has championed for the bloc's most troubled economies.

Watching the celebrations, Syriza member Sofia told FRANCE 24 she knew that the battle had just begun.

“It gives us a lot of hope to see the number of people from other southern European countries which are also enduring austerity here today to witness this,” she said.

Among those visitors was Guido de Togni, from Italy.

“It is an historic day,” he said. “It is the first time that the radical left has won an election in an EU country and it will have an impact in a number of other countries, Italy included.”

Syriza does not have an outright majority in parliament – it won 149 seats in the 300-member parliament – and party leaders have begun talks with the leader of the right-wing Independent Greeks party, an anti-bailout outfit, which has already expressed willingness to join a coalition.

Tsipras expects to be sworn in as prime minister on Monday and have a government in place by Wednesday morning at the latest, party officials said.

 

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