After a snap general election held in Greece over the weekend, left-wing Syriza party leader Alexis Tsipras reigned victorious as he was given a second chance to try and deal with the country’s astonishing debt. He also must tackle another immediate issue: carrying out major reforms to modernize its economy and government structures.
In front of his supporters, Tsipras proclaimed that, “Under difficult conditions, the Greek people have given us a clear order to get rid of everything that kept us stuck in the past. It’s a great victory, a clear victory and a victory of the people.”
He also told supporters that, “[He] feels vindicated because the Greek people have a clear mandate to carry on fighting inside and outside [Greece] to uphold the pride of [Greek] people. In Europe today, Greece and the Greek people are synonymous with resistance and dignity. Together, we will continue the struggle we began seven months ago.”
Despite the victory, many Greek citizens are not happy with the outcome of the election. More than four in 10 Greeks did not choose to vote in the election, and while Tsipras won 35.5% of the votes, the center-right New Democracy earned 28.1% of the votes.
The struggles that face Tsipras and the Greek government are significant.
According tough new conditions imposed by the Eurozone countries earlier this year as a result of Greece’s third bailout, the Greek government must accomplish major feats.
Specifically, the government has five priorities to face: Wages and pension costs must be cut again; the early retirement and pension system must be reformed before January; banks must be recapitalized and a timetable needs to be set for lifting capital controls; debt repayment talks must continue - with the goal of a debt relief agreement by January; tax reforms must be adopted (farmers’ income taxes will double); greater than 50% of the state electricity network must be privatized; closed professions (e.g., taxi drivers) must be liberalized and; charges to see state health providers must be reinstated.
Another immediate issue that Greece needs to confront is the growing refugee crisis that is facing all of Europe.
In sum, Tsipras and the country have a long road ahead though the path now looks more clear than it did on Friday.