Alexis Tsipras, a former civil engineer and young communist, has been announced as the new Prime Minister of Greece. He has been leader of the far-left Syriza party since 2008 (when he was elected at age 34) and fiercely opposed to the punitive repayments forced on Greece through European bailout packages.

The Syriza party grew in popularity as they became the mouthpiece of Greek voter’s hostility against the austerity measures. In the five years since they were introduced hundreds of thousands of Greeks have lost their jobs, health benefits, and pensions.

“The Greek people have written history,” Tsipras told supporters in central Athens after the vote.

“Greece is leaving behind destructive austerity, fear, and authoritarianism. It is leaving behind five years of humiliation and pain.

But Greece is being warned not to expect to simply walk away from its debt commitments.

Financial markets responded positively to the vote, happy that the question of government, at least, has been settled.

But European politicians are not so pleased. Greece has a legal obligation to repay the debts it has already accrued from previous bailouts. These repayments will determine whether or not they are eligible for further bailouts – which they still desperately need.

The question on everybody’s lips then is how Tsipras is going to heal the deep social problems besetting his country while maintaining Greece’s economic honesty in the world markets. The government assumes office facing an immediate cash shortage, a shrinking primary surplus, and crushing loan repayments. To make this even more difficult the former government has signed documents limiting the amount of money it can raise through Treasury bill auctions.

For the record Syriza won 36.3 per cent of the primary vote. The former Prime Minister, Antonis Samaras, and his conservative party, were swept aside – winning only 27.8 per cent of the count. Coming in third was the Neo Nazi-spawned Golden Dawn with 6.3 per cent.

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