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Alexis Tsipras

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Alexis Tsipras

Alexis Tsipras
Αλέξης Τσίπρας

MP
Prime Minister of Greece
Assumed office
21 September 2015
President Prokopis Pavlopoulos
Deputy Yannis Dragasakis
Preceded by Vassiliki Thanou-Christophilou (Acting)
In office
26 January 2015 – 27 August 2015
President Karolos Papoulias
Prokopis Pavlopoulos
Deputy Yannis Dragasakis
Preceded by Antonis Samaras
Succeeded by Vassiliki Thanou-Christophilou (Acting)
Leader of Syriza
Assumed office
4 October 2009
Preceded by Alekos Alavanos
Leader of the Opposition
In office
20 June 2012 – 26 January 2015
Prime Minister Antonis Samaras
Preceded by Antonis Samaras
Succeeded by Antonis Samaras
Member of the Hellenic Parliament
Assumed office
20 September 2015
Constituency Heraklion
In office
4 October 2009 – 20 September 2015
Constituency Athens A
Vice President of the Party of the European Left
Assumed office
5 December 2010
President Pierre Laurent
Member of the Municipal Council of Athens
In office
1 January 2007 – 4 October 2009
Personal details
Born (1974-07-28) 28 July 1974
Athens, Greece
Political party Communist Party of Greece
(until 1991)
Synaspismos
(1991–2013)
Syriza (2004–present)
Domestic partner Peristera Batziana
Children 2
Alma mater National Technical University
Signature

Alexis Tsipras (Greek: Αλέξης Τσίπρας /aˈleksis ˈtsipras/, phonetically: ; born 28 July 1974)[1] is a Greek politician and the 185th and current Prime Minister of Greece, serving from 26 January 2015 to 27 August 2015 and since 21 September 2015. Tsipras has been leader of the left-wing Syriza party since 2009.[2][3]

He was first elected to the Hellenic Parliament in 2009, and was the Party of the European Left nominee for President of the European Commission in the 2014 European Parliament election. On 25 January 2015, Tsipras led Syriza to victory in a snap general election, receiving 36% of the vote and 149 out of the 300 seats in the Parliament. On 20 August 2015, seven months into his term as Prime Minister he lost his majority after intraparty defections, Tsipras announced his resignation, and called for a snap election, to take place the following month. In the September 2015 snap elections, Tsipras led Syriza to another victory, receiving 35.5% of the vote and 145 out of the 300 seats in the parliament, only 4 seats short of the previous elections.

In 2015 he was voted by TIME magazine as one of the 100 most influential people globally.[4]

Contents

  • Early life and career 1
  • Political career, 1999–2015 2
  • Prime Minister 3
    • First term (January–August 2015) 3.1
      • Bailout referendum 3.1.1
      • Bailout agreement 3.1.2
      • Resignation 3.1.3
    • Second term (2015–present) 3.2
      • Re-election 3.2.1
  • Personal life 4
  • See also 5
  • References 6
  • External links 7

Early life and career

Tsipras was born 28 July 1974 in Athens. His family has its roots in a village near Babaeski in an area of Eastern Thrace which was transferred from Turkey to Greece during the 1923 population exchange between Greece and Turkey.[5] His father was born in Epirus.[6][7] His mother was born in Eleftheroupoli.[8]

Tsipras joined the Communist Youth of Greece in the late 1980s. In the early 1990s, as a student at Ampelokipoi Multi-disciplinary High School, he was politically active in the student uprising against the controversial law of Education Minister Vasilis Kontogiannopoulos. He rose to prominence as a representative of the student movement when he was featured as a guest on a television show hosted by journalist Anna Panagiotarea. During the interview, Panagiotarea implied that Tsipras was being disingenuous in defending middle and high school students' right to absenteeism without parental notification in the context of protests.[9]

Tsipras studied civil engineering at the National Technical University of Athens, graduating in 2000, before undertaking postgraduate studies in Urban and Regional Planning following an inter-departmental MPhil at the School of Architecture of NTUA. Alongside his postgraduate studies, he began working as a civil engineer in the construction industry. He wrote several studies and projects on the theme of the city of Athens.[9][10][11]

As a university student, Tsipras joined the ranks of the renascent left-wing movement, particularly the "Enceladus" (Greek: Εγκέλαδος) group, and as member of it was elected to the executive board of the students' union of the Civil Engineering School of NTUA, and also served as student representative on the University Senate. From 1995 to 1997 he was an elected member of the Central Council of the National Students Union of Greece (EFEE).[9]

Political career, 1999–2015

After the departure of the Communist Party of Greece from Synaspismos in 1991, Tsipras remained in the coalition. In May 1999 he became the first political secretary of Synaspismos' youth-wing, the Synaspismos Youth. During this period he was described as a centrist, other than the very clear radical, left-wing profile he would later maintain as leader of Synaspismos. In November 2003 he was succeeded by Tasos Koronakis and moved on to the mother party. He managed quite efficiently to maintain a strong adherence to the policy of the party, effectively outvoicing political deviants to the left and the right. As secretary of Synaspismos Youth, he took an active part in the process of creating the Greek Social Forum and attended many of the international protests and marches against neoliberal globalization. In December 2004, at the 4th Congress of Synaspismos, he was elected a member of the party's Central Political Committee and consequently to the Political Secretariat, where he was responsible for educational and youth issues.[9]

Tsipras first entered the limelight of mainstream Greek politics during the 2006 local election when he ran for the Mayor of Athens under the "Anoihti Poli" (Greek: Ανοιχτή Πόλη, "Open City") Syriza ticket that gained 10.51% of the Athenian vote, finishing third overall. Tsipras won a seat on the Municipality of Athens council by virtue of him being first on the Syriza list.[9][12] He did not run for the Greek Parliament in the 2007 election, choosing to continue to complete his term as a member of the municipal council of Athens.

Alexis Tsipras giving his speech as a presidential candidate at the 5th Congress of Synaspismos.

Tsipras was elected Leader of Synaspismos during its 5th Congress on 10 February 2008, after previous Leader Alekos Alavanos decided not to stand again due to personal reasons.[13] Tsipras became leader of Synaspismos at the age of 33, thus becoming the youngest leader of a Greek political party since 1931. In the 2009 election, he was elected to the Hellenic Parliament for Athens A and was subsequently voted unanimously to be the head of the Syriza parliamentary group.[2][3] Tsipras led SYRIZA through the 2012 elections, overseeing a swing of over 22% to the party, and becoming the Leader of the Opposition and head of the Shadow Cabinet of Alexis Tsipras.

Tsipras in Bologna giving a speech for The Other Europe alliance.

In December 2013 Tsipras was the first candidate proposed for the position of President of the Commission of the European Union by the European United Left–Nordic Green Left (GUE/NGL). The vote was a EU member states election to the European Parliament in May 2014.

Tsipras campaigned as the only candidate of the south periphery countries. At the beginning of May 2014, in a speech in Berlin, he clarified many of his positions, in opposition to the allegedly Merkel-dominated neoliberal political course in Europe. Tsipras declared a substantial change for a better future for all Europeans is visible within 10 years. He addressed those who lost out in the fallout of the financial crises from 2008 to 2014, which produced unexpectedly high jobless rates in most of the EU. The speech was given in English to a German audience and intended to be listened to throughout Europe.[14] Although the GUE/NGL won in Greece, winning six of the 21 Greek seats in the European Parliament, it finished fifth in Europe overall.

Prime Minister

First term (January–August 2015)

Alexis Tsipras laying down red roses at the Kaisariani Memorial.
Alexis Tsipras speaking on Subversive Festival 2013 in Zagreb, Croatia.

Tsipras led Syriza to victory in the general election held on 25 January 2015, falling short of an outright majority in Parliament by just two seats. The following morning, Tsipras reached an agreement with the right-wing populist Independent Greeks party to form a coalition.

On the same day he was sworn in by President Karolos Papoulias as the youngest Prime Minister in Greek history since 1865, using the words "I declare in my name, honour and conscience to uphold the Constitution and its laws."[15] Tsipras was also the first prime minister to take a civil rather than a religious oath of office, marking a rupture with Greek orthodox ceremonial culture.[16] While reaffirming the good relations between his party and the Church, he generated further religious controversy during a meeting with Archbishop Ieronymos. Tsipras explained that as an atheist who neither married in a religious ceremony nor baptised his children, he would not take a religious oath of office.[17]

In his first act after being sworn in, Tsipras visited the Resistance Memorial in Kaisariani, laying down red roses to commemorate the 200 members of the Greek Resistance executed by the German Wehrmacht on 1 May 1944.[18]

During the first meeting of the new cabinet, Tsipras declared the priorities of his government to be the fight against the "humanitarian crisis" in Greece, negotiations with the EU and the International Monetary Fund on restructuring the Greek debt, and the implementation of promises made by SYRIZA such as the abolition of the previous government's privatization policies.[19]

On 3 February, Tsipras made his first official state visit, meeting with his Italian counterpart, Matteo Renzi in Rome. They held a joint press conference expressing concerns about austerity measures imposed by the Juncker Commission and stated that economic growth is the only way to exit from the crisis. After the press conference, Renzi presented Tsipras with an Italian tie as a gift. Tsipras, who is notable for never wearing ties, thanked Renzi and said that he would wear the gift in celebration when Greece had successfully renegotiated the austerity measures.[20]

On 20 February, the Eurogroup came to an agreement with Greece to extend the Greek bailout for four months.[21] Tsipras had also announced a trip to Moscow on 8 April, in a bid to secure Russian support.[22]

On 31 May, Tspiras laid out his complaints and outlined his plan in a recap of events since his election. He concluded that there were at least two competing visions for the integration of Europe, both of which he seemed to reject, and that certain unnamed institutional actors had "an obsession" with their own technocratic programme.[23]

On 22 June, Tsipras presented a new Greek proposal, which included raising the retirement age gradually to 67 and curbing early retirement. It also offered to reform the value-added-tax system to set the main rate at 23 percent.[24] On 29 June Greek banks stayed shut and Tsipras said they are to remain so to impose capital control. Trading in Greek stocks and bonds halted as well.[25][26]

Bailout referendum

On 27 June 2015, Tsipras announced a referendum to decide whether or not Greece should accept the bailout conditions proposed jointly by the Juncker Commission, the International Monetary Fund and the European Central Bank.

Tsipras recommended a "No" vote. On 3 July, during an address to at least 25,000 people gathered in the capital's Syntagma square in front of parliament, he rejected some leaders' warnings that a "No" result in Sunday's plebiscite could see Greece forced to leave the eurozone. He declared "On Sunday, we are not simply deciding to remain in Europe -- we are deciding to live with dignity in Europe".[27] The result of the referendum was 61.3 percent voting "No."[28]

Fidel Castro sent a letter to Tsipras congratulating him for the victory of "NO". In that letter he said that the courage of Greece caused the admiration of the people of Latin America and Caribbean.[29]

Bailout agreement

After several days of negotiation, on 13 July 2015, Tsipras came to an agreement with lenders.[30] Greece will get a loan of 82 to 86 billion euros, which shall be handed to Greece gradually from 2015 until June 2018. In return, Greece will have to increase the VAT, reform the pension system, assure the independence of ELSTAT, automatically cut public spending to get primary surpluses, reform justice so decisions can be made faster, follow the reforms proposed by OECD, revoke the laws passed by Tsipras except for the one concerning the "humanitarian crisis", recapitalize the banks, privatize 50 billion of state assets and decrease the cost of the public sector. In return, Greece would be given the Juncker package, 35 billion euros, which is meant to help the Greek economy to grow.[31]

On 14 August, the Greek parliament backed the country's new bailout deal, although more than 40 MPs from Syriza voted against the deal and Tsipras had to rely on the support of the pro-European opposition: New Democracy, To Potami and PASOK. Tsipras told MPs they were facing a choice between "staying alive or suicide". He also said: "I have my conscience clear that it is the best we could achieve under the current balance of power in Europe, under conditions of economic and financial asphyxiation imposed upon us." [32]

Resignation

On 20 August 2015, Tsipras resigned from position of the Prime Minister of Greece due to rebellion of MPs from his own party SYRIZA, and called for a snap election.[33] He made the announcement in a televised state address. After opposition parties failed to form a government, Vassiliki Thanou-Christophilou was appointed as an interim Prime Minister until elections can be held.

Second term (2015–present)

Re-election

Despite a low turnout of only 57% versus 64% in previous elections, at the 20 September election, Tsipras received a solid vote of confidence, with Syriza achieving 35.50% of the vote,[34] enough to form an anti-austerity coalition with ANEL.[35] Among others, Tsipras appointed in his new government Dimitris Kammenos, a politician from ANEL, as deputy minister for infrastructure, transport and networks, causing reactions because of Kammenos' anti-Semitic, racist and homophobic comments on Twitter, such as accusations of 9/11 being a 'Jewish' plot.[36] The outcry against him eventually forced Kammenos to resign, being a minister for less than 12 hours.[37] On 27 September, Tsipras talked in the Clinton Global Initiative to Bill Clinton about the need to restructure the Greek debt, to make reforms in public administration and bring investments.[38] On 30 September, Panos Kammenos, the Defense Minister, celebrated the Greek victory in the battle of Salamina, causing criticism by some due to its resemblance to the junta's celebrations of similar events with the same style.[39][40] On 9 October, Tsipras along with Panos Kammenos visited the military exercise named Parmenion, wearing a military jacket.[41]

Personal life

Tsipras is not married. His registered partner is Peristera "Betty" Batziana, an electrical and computer engineer. They met in 1987, at the age of 13, at Ampelokipoi Branch High School. Both eventually became members of the Communist Youth of Greece. They live together in Athens with their two sons.[42] Their youngest son's middle name is Ernesto, a tribute to Che Guevara. Tsipras is an avid football fan and, having grown up near the stadium, supports Panathinaikos, attending every home game that he can.[7] Tsipras is a self-described atheist,[43][44] making him (as of 2015) among the four publicly recognized atheist heads of government and state in the European Union, along with French President François Hollande, Czech President Miloš Zeman, and Croatian Prime Minister Zoran Milanović.[45]

See also

References

  1. ^
  2. ^ a b
  3. ^ a b
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^ a b
  8. ^
  9. ^ a b c d e
  10. ^
  11. ^
  12. ^
  13. ^
  14. ^ http://www.alexistsipras.eu/8-news/163-tsipras-to-speak-at-die-linke-party-congress-in-berlin
  15. ^
  16. ^
  17. ^
  18. ^
  19. ^
  20. ^
  21. ^
  22. ^
  23. ^ lemonde.fr: "Alexis Tsipras : « Non à une zone euro à deux vitesses »", 31 May 2015
  24. ^ : « Greece offers new plan to avert default, creditors see some hope »", 22 June 2015
  25. ^
  26. ^
  27. ^
  28. ^ Δημοψήφισμα Ιούλιος 2015, Ministry of the Interior and Administrative Reconstruction. (accessed 5 July 2015)
  29. ^
  30. ^
  31. ^
  32. ^
  33. ^
  34. ^ | title=Parliamentary Elections September 2015 | accessdate=21 September 2015}}
  35. ^
  36. ^
  37. ^
  38. ^
  39. ^
  40. ^
  41. ^
  42. ^
  43. ^
  44. ^
  45. ^

External links

  • Homepage of Alexis Tsipras, 2014 candidature for European Commission President
  • Curriculum Vitae Synaspismos website
  • Ανοιχτή Πόλη
  • Tsipras MP profile on Vouliwatch.gr
  • CV and office terms of Alexis Tsipras at the Hellenic Parliament (English)
Party political offices
Preceded by
Alekos Alavanos
Leader of Syriza
2009–present
Incumbent
Political offices
Preceded by
Antonis Samaras
Leader of the Opposition
2012–2015
Succeeded by
Antonis Samaras
Prime Minister of Greece
2015
Succeeded by
Vassiliki Thanou-Christophilou
Acting
Preceded by
Vassiliki Thanou-Christophilou
Acting
Prime Minister of Greece
2015–present
Incumbent
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