Greek PM Tsipras a divisive figure in France, poll shows

AFP | File photo of Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and French President François Hollande

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras is a deeply polarizing figure in France, with the number of French who view him favourably and those who don’t cleaved almost in half, a survey showed Sunday.


Few French felt indifferent to Greece's controversial leader, the survey published in the Le Parisien newspaper said.  

While many leftwing respondents have a positive opinion of Tsipras (64 percent), the Greek prime minister is equally disliked by those on the right, with 62 percent of respondents having an unfavourable view of him, according to the survey, polled by research company Odoxa.

As the leader of the left wing Syriza party who came to power in a stunning victory in January and has since negotiated the beleaguered country’s bailout with its international creditors, Tsipras is overwhelmingly seen as having "deep convictions" (72 percent) and being "courageous" (65 percent).

But even as the bailout talks collapsed last week and Greeks on Sunday marched to polls to cast a referendum on whether to accept the bailout terms, 58 percent of French believe he is right to stand up to the European Union. Even rightwing respondents agreed, with 49 percent of them saying they approve of his approach, Le Parisien reported.

Regarding the referendum, a majority of French respondents (78 percent) said the Greeks have a right to take a democratic decision about their future even as 69 percent of respondents feared a negative impact on other European countries, including France, the paper noted citing the survey.

Respondents found that few leaders resemble Tsipras, especially not French President François Hollande, whose calibrated approach stands in sharp contrast to the Greek leader’s brash style.

Tsipras has urged Greeks to vote “No” to the new austerity measures proposed by the country’s creditors – the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund, with the Greek leader saying that by doing so, his hand would be strengthened at the negotiating table. It’s a tactic Hollande disapproves of.

EU leaders have warned Greek voters that a negative outcome could jeopardize the debt-stricken country’s place in the euro zone.

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