Greece ‘leaving behind disastrous austerity,’ says victorious Syriza head
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Greece ‘leaving behind disastrous austerity,’ says victorious Syriza head

After election win, far-left leader Alexis Tsipras vows end to ‘humiliation and pain’; neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party makes gains

Syriza party leader Alexis Tsipras greets supporters following victory in the election in Athens, Greece, on January 25, 2015. (AFP/Aris Messinis)
Syriza party leader Alexis Tsipras greets supporters following victory in the election in Athens, Greece, on January 25, 2015. (AFP/Aris Messinis)

ATHENS, Greece — A triumphant Alexis Tsipras told Greeks that his radical left Syriza party’s win in Sunday’s early general election meant an end to austerity and humiliation and that the country’s regular and often fraught debt inspections were a thing of the past.

“Today the Greek people have made history. Hope has made history,” Tsipras said in his victory speech at a conference hall in central Athens.

Greece is “leaving behind disastrous austerity” and the so-called troika of creditors “is finished”, Tsipras said.

“The verdict of our people means the troika is finished,” the 40-year-old Syriza leader said, referring to the country’s international lenders — the European Union, the International Monetary Fund and the European Central Bank.

Official results with 60 percent of polling stations counted showed Syriza with 36 percent, far ahead of Prime Minister Antonis Samaras’ conservatives, who had 28 percent.

But it was still unclear whether Syriza would have the minimum 151 of parliament’s 300 seats needed to form a government without support from other parties. Greek election officials said that would likely only become clear once all votes were counted — something expected by early Monday at the earliest.

Whatever the case, all eyes will be on the opening of world financial markets after Syriza beat Samaras’ incumbent conservatives.

“The sovereign Greek people today have given a clear, strong, indisputable mandate. Greece has turned a page. Greece is leaving behind the destructive austerity, fear and authoritarianism. It is leaving behind five years of humiliation and pain,” Tsipras said to a crowd of rapturous flag-waving party supporters.

Tsipras campaigned on promises of renegotiating the terms for Greece’s 240 billion-euro ($270 billion) bailout, which has kept the debt-ridden country afloat since mid-2010.

To qualify for the cash, Greece has had to impose deep and bitterly-resented public spending, salary and pension cuts and repeated tax hikes. Its progress in reforms is reviewed by debt inspectors from the International Monetary Fund, European Commission and European Central Bank, collectively known as the “troika,” before each installment of bailout funds can be disbursed.

“The verdict of the Greek people ends, beyond any doubt, the vicious circle of austerity in our country,” Tsipras said. “The verdict of the Greek people, your verdict, annuls today in an indisputable fashion the bailout agreements of austerity and disaster. The verdict of the Greek people renders the troika a thing of the past for our common European framework.”

The neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party and the pro-European To Potami party were in a neck-and-neck race for third place, with between 6.4% and 8.0% apiece, the polls showed.

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