| 17.9°C Dublin

'Conspiracy theorist' props up the new Athens government

Close

Leader of right-wing, anti-bailout Independent Greeks party Panos Kammenos (C) leaves after a meeting with head of radical leftist Syriza party Alexis Tsipras at the Syriza headquarters in Athens.

Leader of right-wing, anti-bailout Independent Greeks party Panos Kammenos (C) leaves after a meeting with head of radical leftist Syriza party Alexis Tsipras at the Syriza headquarters in Athens.

REUTERS

Leader of right-wing, anti-bailout Independent Greeks party Panos Kammenos (C) leaves after a meeting with head of radical leftist Syriza party Alexis Tsipras at the Syriza headquarters in Athens.

Greece had a new government yesterday after Syriza, Greece's radical leftist party, formed an unlikely alliance with a right-wing party.

While Syriza scored a historic victory in Greece's election, it fell short of winning an outright majority in the 300-seat parliament, gaining 149 seats.

That compelled the party's leader, Alexis Tsipras, to do a deal with the Independent Greeks party, which said it would back the 40-year-old former Communist as the country's new prime minister. They are strange bedfellows and their differences could herald a highly unstable new phase in Greece's turbulent politics as Mr Tsipras embarks on bruising negotiations with the EU and IMF over the country's massive debt and deeply unpopular austerity regime.

Like Syriza, the Independent Greeks are stridently opposed to the "troika" of international creditors who have lent the country €240bn, saying that Greece simply cannot pay the money back.

They were formed in 2012 by a breakaway group of rebels from New Democracy.

They also have close links to the Greek Orthodox Church, further putting them at odds with Mr Tsipras, who is an atheist.

Independent Greeks are led by Panos Kammenos, a former deputy shipping minister. He says the bail-out by the European Union, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund has reduced Greece to the status of a debt colony. "We will never go as beggars on our knees to (German Chancellor Angela) Merkel, we will go standing tall as Greeks do. The Greek people are fighting united to restore national sovereignty and dignity," he said.

He wants to wipe out a large part of Greece's debt, which is equivalent to 175pc of the country's gross domestic product. Mr Kammenos (49) has insisted his party can act as a "safety valve" for Greece as it heads for a showdown with Brussels and Berlin.

Regarded as a conspiracy theorist by his opponents, he has said that Greece is being ruined by what he calls a "neoliberal avalanche". (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Telegraph.co.uk