Greece’s parliamentary elections in January 2015 delivered a clear win for Alexis Tsipras, leader of the leftwing party Syriza. But what impact will the new government’s radical plan have on foreign investments?
"Syriza seems to welcome investments that would be beneficial for the Greek people and not only for the foreign capital, but announcements related to a halt of privatisations shows the party’s intentions towards this type of investment," said Dimitrios Katsikas, a research fellow at the Hellenic Foundation for European and Foreign Policy.
Giorgos Stathakis, minister of development, infrastructure, shipping and tourism, said that Syriza is opposed to privatisations but that the focus is on the productive reconstruction of the economy. He pledged to simplify procedures related to business licences, to put an end to bureaucracy, and to provide support to start-up companies and young entrepreneurs.
Yianis Varoufakis, minister of economics, seems to have another view on privatisation. He was quoted in newspaper New York Times as saying that the privatisations will not halt in the country, while adding that "we want to ensure that this country becomes an attractive destination for FDI, but [are] not interested in a fire sale or selling the family silver".
Mr Katsikas also said that Syriza may keep a more positive attitude towards greenfield projects than towards privatisations, as long as there are guarantees related to employees and their wages.
"We just have to wait and see what Syriza will do, it is not easy to predict, as it is the first time that Greece has a government of this kind," commented Mr Katsikas. "Until 2012, Syriza was a small party only securing 4% of the vote; it is possible that its policy towards FDI is not decided in details yet".
The country faced early elections, two years ahead of schedule, after the parliament failed to elect a president. Syriza secured a government majority with the backing of the right-wing party Independent Greeks. Syriza took 36.3% of the vote and captured 149 seats while Independent Greeks won 13 seats with a 4.75% share of the vote.
Not long after the new cabinet’s swearing in, announcements related to the halt of privatisations brought anxiety among investors. Minister of productive reconstruction, environment and energy, Panagiotis Lafazanis, talked about the halt of electricity supplier Public Power Corporation’s privatisation and the need to build a new model for this company.
Christos Spirtzis, alternate minister of infrastructure, transport and networks, announced the cancellation of infrastructure privatisation projects, such as airports. The alternate minister in charge of shipping, Thodoris Dritsas, said that the character of the Piraeus Port Authority should remain public so the port’s sale should be again under review but he also added that Greece wants to continue co-operating with the Chinese company Cosco.