It was in the U.S. where Alexis Tsipras chose to step into Europe’s political mainstream.
At a conference at the University of Texas at Austin in November 2013, as Greeks a continent away prepared for winter with higher taxes on heating oil, Tsipras said Greece belonged in the euro area, despite the currency’s faults. No country should leave and any departure would be “game on” for speculators about who the next victim might be, he said.
“An exit by Greece or any other crisis country would be a disaster for Europe,” he told an audience of officials and academics. “This is something that deep down everyone knows.”
The comments were the clearest sign of a new pragmatism that began to seep into the ranks of the leadership of the party that calls itself the Coalition of the Radical Left, or Syriza, after it narrowly lost Greek elections in 2012.
It culminated in a decisive victory in a vote on Sunday that put Tsipras, 40, in line to be his country’s next prime minister and starts the clock on whether he can deliver on promises to end austerity while convincing fellow European leaders to keep aid flowing to Greece.
“The party has won a big anti-austerity mandate, the message of change,” said Wolfango Piccoli, managing director at Teneo Intelligence in London. “Tsipras will be the celebrated winner, but delivering on voters’ larger-than-life expectations has not become easier after the landslide victory.”
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