Ahead of Sunday’s snap vote, both front-runners are vowing to stay in the eurozone – and that means continued austerity.
Alexis Tspiras, the victor of Greece’s snap elections, has said that the new government to be led by his left-wing Syriza party would focus on discussions with lenders for debt relief, as the EU and Germany urged Athens to stick to economic reforms.
Greek voters gave Tsipras, who was sworn in as prime minister late on Monday, the power to form a new coalition government through a strong election victory on Sunday.
“The immediate objective of the coming period is the full restoration of stability in the economy and in the operation of banks, and broadening the ground we gained in negotiations [with lenders], with the first crucial battle debt relief,” a Syriza official quoted him telling party officials, according to the Reuters news agency.
Syriza won about 35 percent of the vote in Sunday’s elections to give it 145 seats in the 300-seat parliament, and formed a coalition government with right-wing Independent Greeks party, which took 3.7 percent and 10 seats.
Meanwhile, Germany and EU officials urged Athens to implement agreed reforms in exchange for a multi-billion-euro bailout by the country’s lenders.
“The third bailout programme remains valid also beyond election day and coalition talks,” German government spokesman Steffen Seibert told a news conference in Berlin.
Separately, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker called on Greece to work for stability and to stick to its reform agreements.
“Greece now needs wide support by all parties, institutional stability and a timely implementation of reforms so that trust returns,” Juncker wrote in a congratulatory letter to Tsipras.
After meeting with Tsipras on Monday, the leader of the Independent Greeks, Panos Kammenos, said that the new cabinet would be announced by Wednesday morning.
“It will be a progressive government, a government which will continue the task we undertook these six months, and I hope lawmakers will realise the Greek people’s message for national unity,” Kammenos, whose party also allied with Syriza in the previous government, told reporters.
Tsipras resigned last month, triggering elections after facing a rebellion within Syriza over his policy U-turn in accepting a painful third bailout.
Tsipras recently had to accept economic reforms in exchange for a $96bn bailout package from Greece’s international creditors.
He had to agree to the eurozone bailout despite the fact that 61 percent of Greek voters in a July referendum overwhelmingly voted against an earlier offer that insisted on austerity measures.
The bailout Tsipras agreed to, which kept Greece in the eurozone, was widely seen as more severe than the original offer and included new taxes and spending cuts.
In January, Syriza won the general elections with 36.34 percent of the vote, followed by the New Democracy bloc at 27.81 percent. The left-wing party had formed a coalition with the Independent Greeks.