Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) hailed Sunday’s victory of Coalition of the Radical Left (Syriza) leader Alexis Tsipras in Greece, calling it a victory for the 99 percent.
Tsipras, who came up through the Communist Youth ranks and has a son middle-named Ernesto in honor of Che Guevara, was sworn in as prime minister today.
He called his new anti-austerity government “the beginning of the end of a regime that plunged Greece into poverty, unemployment, grief, and desperation.”
“We congratulate Greece on successfully completing its parliamentary elections, and we look forward to working closely with its next government,” White House press secretary Josh Earnest said in a statement this morning. “The Greek people have taken many difficult but important steps to lay the groundwork for economic recovery. As a longstanding friend and ally, the United States will continue to support their efforts and those of the international community to strengthen the foundation for Greece’s long-term prosperity.”
Sanders said Tsipras’ victory tells us “that people around the world will no longer accept austerity for working families while the rich continue to get much richer.”
“The top 1 percent of the world’s population will soon own more wealth than the bottom 99 percent,” the senator and potential presidential hopeful said. “This is wrong and unsustainable from a moral, economic and political perspective.”
Former U.S. Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Nicholas Burns told PBS that it was a “momentous election” not just for Greece “but also perhaps for the future of the European Union.”
Syriza, Burns said, “is very likely going to challenge the compact between the Greek people and the European Union, these hundreds of billion of dollars in loans to the Greeks.”
“Will the Greek government under new leadership play by the rules, meet the commitments, and pay off those loans, or will they effectively challenge European Union to renegotiate them?” Burns said. “It will be a showdown or sorts between a leftist Greek government and the German-led E.U.”
German Chancellor Angela Merkel indicated she won’t warm to Tsipras’ desire to renegotiate $278 million in bailout deals.
“Everything we are doing politically is geared at making sure that Greece stays part of the Eurozone,” Merkel said. “Two things are part of this: a willingness to show solidarity, which we will continue to show, coupled with a willingness to take responsibility, which I am sure will continue to be shown by Greece.”