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article imageGreece's leader resigns, calls for new elections next month

By Nathan Salant     Aug 20, 2015 in World
Athens - Leftist prime minister Alexis Tsipras resigned Thursday and called for new elections he hopes will bolster his support and ratify his decision to accept tougher austerity to keep Greece in the shared European currency.
Tsipras, who was elected in January by promising to resist demands for pension and budget cuts from Greece's partners in the European Union, was forced to give in to demands from international lenders to secure a $96 billion bailout package to keep the country's economy afloat.
The new funding enabled Greece to meet Thursday's most-pressing hurdle, a multibillion-dollar debt payment to the European Central Bank, according to the Reuters news service.
But Tsipras' concessions to lenders cost him about a third of legislators backing his Syriza party and, with them, his parliamentary majority.
So Tsipras plans to return to the voters -- perhaps as early as next month -- to seek more support from voters.
The financial crisis forced severe limits on banking and the closure of Greece's stock market for weeks.
Tsipras formally submitted his resignation to President Prokopis Pavlopoulos on Thursday.
"I will go the president of the republic shortly to submit my resignation, as well as the resignation of my government," Tsipras said in a televised speech before the resignation.
Tsipras said he was forced to accept creditors' demands for more austerity in the form of pension cuts and increased taxes because the only choice was to withdraw from the euro, even though he had promised to resist those demands if elected.
"I want to be honest with you -- we did not achieve the agreement we expected before the January elections," Tsipras said.
"I feel the deep ethical and political responsibility to put to your judgment all I have done, successes and failures," he said.
Dutch Finance Minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem, who chairs meetings of other eurozone ministers, told Reuters he hoped the resignation would not affect the $96 billion bailout.
"It is crucial that Greece maintains its commitments to the euro zone," he said.
Because Tsipras resigned before serving for a year as prime minister, opposition parties in Greece's parliament will get their own opportunities to form coalition governments before a new election can be held, Reuters said.
A July 24 poll by Metron Analysis found support for Syriza at 33.6 percent, making it Greece's most-popular political party but still not strong enough to govern without a coalition partner or partners.
More about Greece, Prime minister, Resignation, tsipras, Parliament
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