Alexis Tsipras
Alexis Tsipras

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras on Tuesday appointed anti-austerity economist Yannis Varoufakis as his finance minister, signalling that his government will take a tough stance in bailout negotiations with international creditors.Alexis Tsipras

The ASE stock exchange in Athens was down 5 per cent in late trading.

Varoufakis, 53, is a professor of economics whose last position was at the University of Texas, Austin.

“The time to put up or shut up has, I have been told, arrived,” he wrote on his blog. “My plan is to defy such advice. To continue blogging here even though it is normally considered irresponsible for a Finance Minister to indulge in such crass forms of communication.”

Tsipras’ leftist SYRIZA party won a parliamentary election on Sunday after it promised to roll back tough spending cuts demanded by the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund in exchange for bailout funds.

Varoufakis will be part of a team that will negotiate new bailout terms with the creditors. He is a vocal critic of the bailout who believes Greece needs to focus on growth and job creation.

SYRIZA, which fell two seats short of an absolute majority in the 300-seat Parliament, formed a coalition government with the populist right-wing Independent Greeks party, which is also opposed to the bailout dictates of Greece’s creditors.

Tsipras promised voters to restore social benefits, create jobs, and double the minimum wage to 751 euros a month. He also pledged to abolishment the unpopular property tax known as enfia.

Panos Kammenos, leader of the Independent Greeks, was named defense minister while Nikos Kotzias, a political scientist, was made foreign minister.

Germany, the EU’s paymaster, has said Greece should stick to the fiscal reforms set out in it bailout deal, ruling out any debt relief.

The new ruling coalition will have 162 seats in Parliament, 149 for SYRIZA and 13 for the junior coalition partners.

Tsipras also announced that he would cut the number of ministries from 19 to 10.

The unemployment rate in Greece stands at 26 per cent and one-third of the population live below the poverty line. Youth unmployment is at 49.8 per cent.



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