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'Syriza victory is good news for French people'

Ben McPartland · 26 Jan 2015, 20:48

Published: 26 Jan 2015 20:48 GMT+01:00

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The rise to power in Greece of Alexis Tsipras and his radical-left party Syriza has sent tremors around Europe, France included.

On Monday President François Hollande and his Socialist Party chiefs put a brave face on by congratulating the new Greek Prime Minister Tsipras and his anti-austerity party, but urged him to continue to cooperate with France.

But the result may have been a little embarrassing given that Hollande has recently fought off a minor rebellion from anti-austerity socialist rebels on the far left and vowed to continue to implement the necessary cuts to get the economy back on an even-keel.

Over to his left however the French Communist Party were genuinely celebrating a significant victory with senator Laurence Cohen telling The Local the French people have been given renewed hope.

"This is good news for the people of France," she said.

“The result shows that a left, which says no to austerity, can gain power through democratic means. The Greek people have shown they no longer want to be dictated to by the financial markets,” Cohen said.

“The fact this happened in a neighbouring European country shows the French people what can be done when they stand up. This is a sign of hope,” she said.

Cohen points out that there is already plenty of anger among the French left, who felt let down by a president who promised them much in terms of changing to path of austerity, but has failed to deliver.

In November 2013 France was described as being on the edge of “social explosion” due to the atmosphere of rebellion in the country. At the time Hollande faced a tax revolt in Brittany and protests by teachers and self-employed tradespeople.

"There's a lack of alternative politics. But the French people will see that things can change," she said.

But analysts of French politics point out that "France is France and Greece is Greece" and there is still a chasm between the two countries.

"Those on the far left will get a boost, that's certain, but the two countries' economic situations are very different as are the people involved," Philippe Marliere, a professor of French and European politics at UCL told The Local.

"Even though the Socialist party in France is weak, it is unlikely it will be overtaken by the far left. We are not at the point where Socialist party deputies will jump ship to the far left en masse," he said.

Although the French economy has ground to a halt, France has not seen its middle classes lose jobs, or access to health care, nor have their pensions ans savings wiped out, like in Greece, Marliere points out.

Story continues below…

France's Socialist party has come a long way to the right since the days of 2012 when Hollande was declaring the "world of finance was his real enemy" and he vowed to end austerity.

On Monday Hollande the president said that Greece must keep its promises on debt repayments following the Syriza party's stunning election win.

"Commitments have been made and they must be honoured," Hollande said at a press conference in Paris, a day after Syriza's win put the heavily indebted country on a collision course with its international creditors.

The French leader has invited newly elected Greek Prime Minister Tsipras to visit Paris as soon as possible.

Hollande expressed his desire to help "Greece return to stability and growth," the Elysee Palace said in a statement, adding that France would "stand by Greece during this important period for its future."

Ben McPartland (ben.mcpartland@thelocal.com)

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