Tieless and eschewing the traditional religious swearing-in ceremony, but with a surprise coalition deal in the bag and a sanguine international reception, radical left leader Alexis Tsipras took over Monday as austerity-wracked Greece's new prime minister. Hours earlier, the 40-year-old's Syriza party trounced the outgoing, conservative government in Sunday's national elections, on a platform of easing social pain and securing massive debt forgiveness. Although Syriza fell tantalizingly short of a governing majority in the 300-seat parliament, Tsipras moved quickly Monday to secure the support of 13 lawmakers from the small, right-wing populist Independent Greeks party, raising his total to 162. ''''We have the required majority,'' Tsipras told Greek President Karolos Papoulias, shortly before being sworn in as prime minister, the youngest Greece has seen in 150 years and the first incumbent to take a secular oath rather than the religious one customarily administered by a Greek Orthodox official. Initial reactions from international markets and officials from Greece's bailout creditors were markedly unflustered. ''We stand ready to continue supporting Greece, and look forward to discussions with the new government,'' International Monetary Fund director Christine Lagarde said.
Alexis Tsipras, Syriza party leader and winner of the Greek parliamentary elections, signs papers appointing him as Greece's first leftist prime minister after his swearing-in ceremony at the presidential palace in Athens January 26, 2015. (Reuters)