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March 23, 2023

Greek leftist leader lays out radical agenda

Greek leftist leader Alexis Tsipras on Tuesday laid out the radical agenda he hopes to pursue if he becomes prime minister, including the cancellation of international loan agreements to Greece that forced the country into sharp budget cuts, CNN reports. He also called for state control of the banks as he started efforts to form a governing coalition in the wake of parliamentary elections on Sunday.The Greek people voted clearly to reject the austerity demanded by international lenders, Syriza Party leader Tsipras said.The two parties that made the agreement with international lenders “don’t have a majority any more to vote for the plundering and looting of the Greek people,” Tsipras told lawmakers.Tsipras met Greek President Karolos Papoulias earlier on Tuesday to get instructions to try to cobble together a government in the wake of elections that left the country’s political system in chaos.Syriza will have three days to form a government. The party came in second place in elections where seven parties got seats in parliament and no party captured more than 19% of the vote.The Greek stock market dropped about 5% in early trading before recovering somewhat Tuesday amid concerns that Sunday’s election could prompt Greek leaders to reconsider the austerity deal. The market fell more than 6% Monday.Greece’s main center-right party failed to form a coalition government Monday, adding yet more uncertainty to the debt-ridden country’s political situation.New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras said he did “everything possible” to form a coalition, but that none of the parties agreed to join with his party, which won first crack at forming a government after finishing first in Sunday’s parliamentary elections.Politicians have until May 17 to come up with a new working alliance or, if they cannot, set a date for another round of elections. The leftist coalition Syriza made a strong second-place showing in the election, more than tripling its parliamentary representation to 51 seats out of 300.Tsipras left little doubt Sunday about what direction his party would take in a new government.“European leadership and especially (German Chancellor Angela) Merkel have to understand that austerity policies have suffered defeat,” Tsipras said Sunday.A European Commission spokeswoman said Monday that Greece needs time to work through its political process but reminded the country’s leaders that they would be expected to abide by terms of a bailout program meant to avoid a crippling financial meltdown.“The commission hopes and expects that the future government of Greece will respect the engagements that Greece has entered into,” spokeswoman Pia Ahrenkilde Hansen told reporters.New Democracy finished first in Sunday’s voting but with just 19% of the vote, giving it 108 seats in Greece’s 300-seat parliament.Voters also delivered a rebuke to PASOK – New Democracy’s socialist partner in the outgoing coalition government – stripping the party of 119 seats.Together, the parties fell short of the 50% necessary to continue the coalition, requiring formation of a new government.

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