POLITICS

Ed Miliband's Response To Syriza's Greek Election Win Is Pretty Tepid

26/01/2015 15:08 GMT | Updated 27/01/2015 08:59 GMT

As radical anti-austerity Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras Syriza is sworn in, Ed Miliband has avoided implying pretty much anything at all about Labour's support, or otherwise, for the left-wing party.

Tsipras met with senior Labour officials during a visit to London and even once described Labour as one of "the few parties so close to power in Europe with whom we share a lot of positions and with whom we can be in constant communication".

But the Labour leader's reaction to Tsipras' success was painfully cautious.

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Miliband said: "Just like our elections are a matter for the people of this country, so who the Greek people elect is a decision for them.

"It is the responsibility of the British government to work with the elected government of Greece for the good of Britain and Europe and not to play politics.

He added: "And it is up to each country to choose its own path on how to deal with the economic and social challenges they face.

"We have set out our path for Britain: to make sure our country is fairer and more prosperous and balance the books."

Miliband, the son of a Marxist academic, does not appear keen to congratulate a radically left-wing party, three months before he fights to become prime minister of a country where floating voters fear he cannot be trusted with the economy.

In a 2013 interview with The New Statesman, Tsipras said: "I got the impression that the Labour party today is in soul-searching mode, and the debate around austerity is on, so Greece is for them an interesting case study."

He added Labour appeared "deeply troubled" by the collapse of PASOK, the Greek social democratic party. Sunday's election has left PASOK with just 13 seats in parliament. Three years ago, they had 160.

Labour grandee and ex-London mayor Ken Livingstone tweeted:

Cameron, who is Tsipras' ideological opponent, tweeted that the outcome in Greece would "increase economic uncertainty".

Labour MP Mike Gapes, the former chairman of the Commons foreign affairs committee, told The Huffington Post UK: "Greece has a new democratically elected government. Whatever we may think of its far left leadership, it is important that the UK and the rest of the EU recognises and understands the reasons behind the vote for change.

"Whatever concerns and doubts we may have about fantasy economics and unrealistic demands it is not helpful for future negotiations and co-operation in the EU and NATO to be so dismissive and churlish in this way.

"And it contrasts starkly with the lack of public criticism of some authoritarian and autocratic undemocratic countries by Cameron in recent weeks."

Other European leaders, including conservatives, openly congratulated Tsipras on becoming prime minister.

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, a conservative, sent a message to Tsipras saying: "I wish to congratulate you... I hope the election result leads to the forming of a stable government committed to the programme of European integration that Greece and Spain share."

French President Francois Hollande congratulated Greek's new PM and said he had a "desire to pursue the close cooperation between our two countries in service of growth and the stability of the euro zone, in a spirit of progress, solidarity and responsibility that is at the heart of the European values we share".

But some were less welcoming.

Germany's Foreign Minister Wolfgang Schäuble said: "We respect the Greek election results. It is a clear government mandate for those who won the election, and now we will see what the new Government does."

He added: "Nobody imposes anything on Greece. Obligations apply."

Carl Bildt, the former Swedish prime minister, dismissed Syriza's agenda with two words.