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Independent Greeks pledge support to Syriza

January 26, 2015

Greece's anti-austerity Syriza party has made a pact with the small, right-wing Independent Greeks party to form a government. Likely Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras is to announce his cabinet shortly.

Die neue Koalition steht: Tsipras und Kamennos 26.01.2015 Athen
Image: AFP/Getty Images/L. Pitarakis

After talks with election victor Tsipras, head of the Independent Greeks party Panos Kammenos (left in picture) said: "From this moment there is a government in the country. The Independent Greeks give a vote of confidence in Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras. There is an agreement in principle."

The two parties "will ally themselves to secure a majority in parliament and form a government," according to a Syriza party source quoted by the AFP news agency on Monday.

With almost all votes counted from Sunday's election, Syriza won 149 seats in the 300-seat parliament, two short of an absolute majority.

Unusual alliance

The deal is an unusual alliance between parties on opposite wings of the political spectrum but united by their opposition to the austerity programs imposed under the terms of the 240 billion-euro ($269 billion) bailout from the European Union and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

"The prime minister will go to the president later today so that he can receive the mandate to form a government," Kammenos added, after leaving his meeting with Tsipras at Syriza's headquarters in Athens on Monday.

The Independent Greeks won around 4 per cent of the vote and have 13 seats in parliament. Kammenos did not say how many ministries his party will have under the agreement with Syriza.

No special treatment

IMF chief Christine Lagarde said in an interview with French newspaper Le Monde, published on Monday, that Greece must respect the eurozone's rules and could not demand special treatment for its debt in the wake of the Syriza victory.

"There are internal eurozone rules to be respected," Lagarde said. "We cannot make special categories for such or such a country."

"It's not a question of austerity measures, these are in-depth reforms that remain to be done," Lagarde said.

Within hours of Syriza's victory, European Central Bank (ECB) Executive Board member Benoit Coeure, speaking on Europe 1 radio, said that Greece had to pay its debts and warned Tsipras to play by the "European rules of the game."

Syriza options

The Independent Greeks are at odds on many social issues with Syriza - they have a hardline stance against illegal immigration for example.

Tsipras is also to hold talks with the heads of two other parties, the centrist To Potami and the communist KKE, indicating he may look for their support even if they do not formally join a coalition.

For the first time in more than 40 years, neither the New Democracy party nor the centre-left PASOK will be in power. The two have dominated Greek politics since the fall of a military junta in 1974.

jm/msh (Reuters, AFP, dpa)