French left and far right herald Syriza victory

Both the far left and the far right in France proclaimed the victory of Alexis Tsipras and anti-austerity radical left party Syriza in the Greek elections on Sunday.

French left and far right herald Syriza victory
Jean-Luc Melenchon, Alexis Tsipras and French Communist Party National Secretary Pierre Laurent share a light moment as they take part in an anti-austerity demon in Paris. Photo: Pierre Andrieu/AFP

France's President François Hollande also congratulated Tsipras adding that he hoped Greece would continue to support the "growth and stability" of the eurozone.

The French president recalled "the friendship that unites France and Greece and expressed his desire to Mr Tsipras to continue the close cooperation between our two countries, to support the growth and stability of the eurozone, in the spirit of progress, solidarity and responsibility that is at the heart of our shared European values," the statement said.

The Greeks on Sunday handed a clear victory to Syriza, "making history" and "leaving austerity behind" them, said Tsipras, the first European leader elected on a platform of explicitly rejecting the harsh policies imposed by the EU and its members.

Tsipras has vowed a raft of anti-austerity pledges including renegotiating the terms of Greece's €240-billion ($269 billion) bailout with the European Union and the International Monetary Fund, raising the minimum wage and increasing pensions for the poorest.

Reacting to the victory Jean-Luc Melenchon, France's most prominent far-left politician described the victory for the anti-austerity party as "pure happiness".

"This is a new page for Europe. Maybe we can take the opportunity to rebuild Europe, which has become the federal Europe of the liberals,” Mélenchon told BFM TV.

“The Greeks are trying to break out of this straight jacket and thanks to them, maybe we will be able to lay out all the figures on the table, that has made life hellish in Europe.”

Members of France's ruling Socialist party, which last year saw a rebellion by several anti-austerity MPs against Hollande's own austerity policies, also congratulated Syriza.

"The victory of a party on the left is always good news for the Socialist party in France," said Jean-Christophe Cambadélis, the first secretary of the party. 

One of those rebels, former education minister Benoit Hamon, said: "The French government clearly now has to support future Greek government in its desire to end austerity and reconnect with economic and social justice, he said.

On the opposite side of France’s political spectrum, the far right were also heralding the victory of the radical-left Greek party, because it represents a blow to the EU.

Jean-Marie Le Pen, the honorary leader of the National Front said the result of the Greek elections reflected a “renunciation” of Europe.

Although Le Pen’s party does not share the same ideas as Syriza, and the father of Marine believes Tsipras will “come under too much pressure to be able to keep his promises”, he welcomed “the defeat of the European Union in Athens”.

Speaking before Sunday's election Marine Le Pen had angered the French far-left by saying the National Front would welcome Syriza's victory.

"We do not agree with all of their programme, especially on their plans for immigration. But we will celebrate their victory," Le Pen said last week.

"There is a fracturing in Europe, which is seeing the people taking power against the totalitarianism of the European Union and their accomplices, the financial markets," she added.


Austerity puts brakes on Bastille Day parade

With France in the tight grip of the economic crisis, it seems not even the country’s oldest, proudest traditions are to be spared. On Tuesday it was reported the government plans to cutback on the festivities surrounding this year’s Bastille Day parade.

Austerity puts brakes on Bastille Day parade
The flag guard of the French fire-fighting academy, marching on the Champs Elysées in 2008. France plans to cut 10 percent from the cost of this year's Bastille Day parade. Photo: Marie-Lan Nguyen

With unemployment at record levels and confidence waning among consumers and employers, a good old-fashioned public display of patriotism and national pride might be just what the French people need this summer.

But this year, not even the traditional annual Bastille Day military parade is to survive the knife of austerity, it would seem.

According to French daily Le Figaro, the government plans to cut 10 to 15 percent, or €400,000 to €600,000 from the cost of the lavish July 14th military ceremony on the Champs Elysées in Paris.

Here's a summary of how the financial squeeze has put the brakes on the annual parade, according to Le Figaro.

Fewer vehicles

This year, only 265 of the most modern, frontline vehicles such as jeeps and tanks will be kept. Ambulances and other vehicles, amounting to a third of last year’s convoy, have been scrapped.

Less fuel

One of the highlights of the annual ceremony – the aerial flypast – will include 58 airplanes and 35 helicopters – 12 percent fewer than usual this year. The move is expected to save €90,000-worth of fuel.

The one-third cut in the number of vehicles on display should also amount to savings of €100,000 in the cost of fuel.

Less space for crowds

The government plans to save €60,000 this July 14th by cutting out two stands for officially-invited guests.

With just as many due to be invited as last year, however, attendees might just have to squeeze in, or stand.

Where do you for Bastille Day? Let us know in the comments section below.