When newly elected Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras returned to Athens from his trip to Brussels last Friday, he discovered an envelope stuffed with 575 euros in cash on his desk. Stumped, he reportedly asked his aides what the money was for and was told that it represented typical reimbursement for per diem expenses for trips abroad. "You're kidding," he responded. And then, according to news reports, he promptly returned the money.
His action is a signature Tsipras move. Ever since his election in late January, the country's youngest prime minister ever—he's only 40—is telling long-suffering Greeks exactly what they want to hear: Things are different now; the era of austerity is over. The new Greek government, led by the radical-left Syriza, has turned the page and will weed out corruption domestically and tear up and renegotiate the stern terms set by the beleaguered country's creditors for its $270 billion bailout.
"After five years of bailout barbarity, our people cannot take any more," the leftist leader, branded a rebel by the international press, told the 300-member parliament.