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‘Strange bedfellows’ in Greece’s new anti-austerity government

January 28th, 2015
10:06 AM ET

By Madalena Araujo, CNN

Greece’s new anti-austerity government is made up of “strange bedfellows,” an expert in Greek politics told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Tuesday as the new Prime Minister Alex Tsipras formed a coalition with a right-wing party and unveiled a cabinet.

Kevin Featherstone, Professor of Contemporary Greek Studies at the London School of Economics said “the independent Greek party, which is the small coalition party with Syriza from the elections, is on record as being anti-Semitic, anti-immigrant; it is a far right nationalist party.”

“Why, then, has Syriza got into coalition with this party? It's perhaps a signal of the insistence of being anti-austerity. This is a party that above all is a fanatic about ending the austerity measures, ending the conditionality from Europe.”

Tsipras’s left-wing Syriza party won a historic victory in Sunday’s elections, sending a warning to the rest of Europe as he vowed to end the nation's austerity program and negotiate the terms of Greece’s EU bailout.

The coalition Tsipras formed with the right-wing Independent Greeks party is faced with a country that is drowning in debt and where the unemployment rate stands at 28%.

“We have a party of Trotskyists, Maoists and left-wing economists - ecologists going into coalition with an avowedly far right anti-immigrant party. And the leader of the Independent Greeks has suggested in the past that a lot of the economic problems of Greece is a result of Jewish influence.”

Many are wondering whether Greece will drop out of the Eurozone, a move Featherstone said is “possible, but I think the risk is actually pretty low, Christiane, because you have remember certain constraints overwhelmingly the Greek electorate wants to stay in the euro.”

“It's a party, Syriza, which has professed its commitment to staying in the euro.”

A former adviser on reforming the Greek Government, Featherstone added that “with the negotiations - and they must be very difficult negotiations - you can't remove the risk, but overwhelmingly, the probability is that Greece will remain in."

Germany and France have already ruled out writing off the country's debt. Amanpour asked Featherstone for his thoughts on the argument that in order for the euro economy to prosper, creditors should allow Greece to renegotiate their debt and inject some strength into their economy.

“Many economists from different political persuasions would accept that the Greek debt is unsustainable. You must do something about the debt."

“What we're missing, though, is that the second dimension, the second agenda, is Europe's likely insistence that Greece must contain - must continue with domestic structural reform. And it's that second agenda that Syriza has major difficulty with."

“But it is a distinctively Greek problem of the need to make the economy more competitive, improve institutions, clean institutions, clean the public administration.”

Click above to watch the full interview.

Filed under:  Christiane Amanpour • Eurozone • Greece • Latest Episode
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