Athens (AFP) – Greece’s anti-austerity Syriza party moved fast to form a coalition government on Monday after its stunning election win that has put the country on a collision course with its international creditors.
Syriza and its 40-year-old leader Alexis Tsipras took 149 seats in the 300-seat parliament in Sunday’s election, heralding a new mood of defiant anti-austerity in Europe.
But renewed fears that Greece could be forced out of the eurozone if it defaults on its debt repayments saw the euro briefly hit an 11-year low against the dollar while Greek stocks also sank.
Tsipras will be sworn in as prime minister at 1400 GMT — the youngest in Greece in 150 years — after he moved swiftly to forge a coalition with small nationalist Independent Greeks (ANEL) party.
ANEL leader Panos Kammenos said after meeting Tsipras that his party was prepared to join Syriza in government.
“From this moment on there is a government, we will give a vote of confidence to the new prime minister,” Kammenos told reporters.
A Syriza source said the two parties “will ally themselves to secure a majority in parliament and form a government”.
Thousands of jubilant party supporters had poured into the streets after polls closed on Sunday, waving Syriza’s red and white flags, as Tsipras vowed that “Greece is leaving behind disastrous austerity.”
His first priority as leader will be to rework the terms of Greece’s massive 240-billion-euro ($269 billion) EU-IMF bailout.
In exchange for the emergency funds, Greece was forced to embark on a series of painful austerity measures – slashing public sector spending, cutting wages and pensions and introducing a far-reaching programme of privatisation.