World

Greek election adds economic uncertainty across Europe, David Cameron says

British Prime Minister David Cameron predicted that the election victory of Greece's radical left-wing Syriza party would create "economic uncertainty" across Europe.

Alexis Tsipras's left-wing Syriza party wins parliamentary elections

Alexis Tsipras, head of the radical leftist Syriza party, speaks to supporters after winning the elections in Athens. Tsipras promised that five years of austerity, "humiliation and suffering" imposed by international creditors were over after his party swept to victory in a snap election. (Marko Djurica/Reuters)

Britain's Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron predicted that the election victory of Greece's radical left-wing Syriza party would create "economic uncertainty" across Europe, while left-of-centre parties welcomed the results as a message that the European Union should change its economic policy.

Belgium's finance minister said Sunday that he saw some room to discuss the "modalities" of the Greek debt program with the other eurozone nations after the victory by Syriza which seeks an end to painful austerity measures.

Johan Van Overtveldt said on the eve of a eurozone finance ministers' meeting that "we can talk modalities, we can talk debt restructuring, but the cornerstone that Greece must respect the rules of monetary union — that must stay as it is."

He told VRT network that even if some things could be changed to accommodate the demands of Syriza, "it is impossible to fundamentally change things."

The willingness of the eurozone minister to contemplate some changes in the Greek program further in the wake of the left-wing victory underscored a realization that the long-held policies of austerity first and foremost were crumbling further.

Cameron tweeted, "The Greek election will increase economic uncertainty across Europe. That's why the U.K must stick to our plan, delivering security at home."

Britain's membership in the European Union is a major issue in the campaign for an election due in May.

New start for Europe?

The Socialist group in the European parliament considered Syriza's victory a watershed and a sign that eurozone economic policy would have to change.

"The renegotiation of the Greek debt, and in particular the extension of the terms of its bailout, should no more be considered as a taboo," said its leader Gianni Pittella.

In Germany, Bundesbank President Jens Weidmann told ARD network that he hoped "the new Greek government will not make promises it cannot keep and the country cannot afford."

He said that as long as Greece does not fully clean up its public finances, any change in the debt program would only have a short-lived impact.

But Germany's opposition Left Party l called the Syriza victory a "sign of hope for a new start in Europe."

Left Party co-chairs Katja Kipping and Bernd Riexinger said in a statement that the result was a blow to the policies dictated to Greece by the "troika" of creditors — the European Central Bank, European Commission and International Monetary Fund — and the German government.

"The Greek election isn't just a chance departure for Greece, but for the whole of Europe. It provides an opportunity for a democratic awakening and a fundamental change of direction in the European Union," the statement said.

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