Alexis Tsipras’s first official act as Greece’s new prime minister was to lay a small bouquet of roses at the site of a World War II memorial. It marks the execution by firing squad of 200 mostly communist activists by Nazi soldiers.
The move was highly symbolic, and not only because Tsipras heads a party named Syriza, an acronym for The Coalition of the Radical Left. The 40-year-old prime minister’s rise to power has put him on a collision course with Germany, as he struggles to deliver on his campaign promises to renegotiate his country’s debt and overturn the painful austerity demanded by Greece’s creditors.
But if Tsipras is to bring home the deal he feels Greece deserves, he will have to more than face down the Germans. He’ll have to win over skeptical taxpayer in other euro zone countries, reassure European leaders worried about insurgent challenges of their own and make the case that – in a Europe still reeling from the 2008 global financial crisis – Greece is uniquely deserving of assistance.
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