Greece: Leftist Alexis Tsipras quits as Syriza party leader

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Alexis Tsipras served as Greece’s prime minister in 2015-19

Greece’s former Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras says he is quitting as leader of the Syriza party after a crushing defeat in last Sunday’s elections.

“The time has come to start a new cycle,” Mr Tsipras said, calling for his centre-left party to be reformed.

The conservative New Democracy (ND) party won nearly 41% of the vote, leaving Syriza far behind on 18%.

Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, who leads ND, says he now has a “strong mandate” to move on the path of change.

Mr Mitsotakis beat Syriza in May – but called new elections in a bid to win a majority in a 300-member parliament.

Under Greek rules for a second election, the biggest party is awarded a bonus of between 20 and 50 seats.

After Sunday’s poll, ND won all 50 – and now has 158 lawmakers.

Mr Tsipras’ resignation announcement came in a televised statement on Thursday.

He said “the negative [election] result can – and must – become the beginning” of a new cycle for Syriza.

The politician added that he was now calling “elections within Syriza for a new leader, in which I will not be a candidate”.

Mr Tsipras, now 48, was Greece’s prime minister from 2015-19 and was the country’s youngest leader in 150 years.

He was swept to power, vowing to abolish EU-imposed austerity measures to overcome Greece’s massive government-debt crisis.

But he reneged on those pledges soon afterwards, and is remembered by many Greeks as a politician who nearly crashed the country out of the eurozone.

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