New Delhi: The 40-year-old new Premier is armed with an intense zeal to rid his country of the austerity policies, which, going by his party, have caused a “humanitarian crisis” in Greece.
While formally receiving his mandate to form the government, Tsipras was quoted telling the President Karolos Papoulias, “It would be good to speed up the procedure because we have an uphill road ahead.”
From the very get- go, Tsipras’ emphasis on symbolism became manifest.
The first thing Tsipras did following his investiture, was to lay flowers at the Kaisariani shooting range in Athens, the site of the execution of dozens of Greek leftists at the hands of German occupation troops in 1944.
Tsipras also pioneered as the first Greek prime minister to pledge a civil rather than religious oath to office, and to do away with a tie at the ceremony.
In his maiden victory speech of Sunday, he vowed to end the “humiliation” and “vicious circle” of austerity for the better of Greece and other European nations.
Tsipras will govern in coalition with the nationalist Independent Greeks party, having clinched 149 seats in Sunday’s election, two seats shy of the requisite majority in the 300-seat parliament.
Tsipras, whose party in the 2012 election was 170,000 votes behind victory, has travelled a long distance from being the fledgling Communist youth activist he had started as.
His name first came to fore among the Greek public in 1990 when he had led a school sit-in at 17 years old, and told a TV interviewer, “We want the right to judge for ourselves whether to skip class.”
Trained to be an engineer, Tsipras was born in an Athens suburb in July 1974, Greece’s fateful year of the infamous coup d’etat.
That was the year wherein a seven-year army dictatorship had collapsed, having seen the merciless persecution of the country’s leftists and Communists, and had closed with a gory crackdown on a student uprising.