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Greece elects new anti-austerity leader Alexis Tsipras

Hungry for change, the Greeks elected Alex Tsipras, a candidate from the far left
Greece elects new anti-austerity leader 02:33

Greece elected a leader from the far left on Sunday. Alexis Tsipras ran on promises he'll re-write terms of Greece's international bailout. His victory could impact economies across the globe.

It's been a while since the Greeks have had anything to celebrate. But the voters have spoken and their message: enough is enough with the austerity measures.

"People are fed up," said Giorgios Cosmos. "They're hungry, literally hungry. I'm 72 years old and all I have in my pocket is seven euros."

Roaring to victory, leftist leader Alexis Tsipras, the 40-year-old firebrand who tapped into the pure fury shown by widespread demonstrations.

For the past two years, Greece has been in the grip of violent protests against deep-cutting austerity measures, tens of thousands of jobs lost, pensions slashed and a 25 percent unemployment rate -- double that for young people.

Most of that anger was aimed at Germany, the driving force of a European Union bailout deal that forced Greece to clean up its act, however painful.

Some protesters went so far as to compare German Chancellor Angela Merkel and her countrymen to Nazis.

Tsipras has promised to tear up that $269 billion bailout deal. But it is a risky game. Greece could face bankruptcy.

And it raises the prospect, once again, of Greece dumping out of the European currency, the euro.

The last time Greece was on the verge of a default or dropping out of the Euro Zone back in 2010, European and U.S. markets got hammered and that battered U.S. retirement plans too. The euro is already down in Asian markets amid fears of a showdown between Greece and its creditors.

There's a big difference between campaign rhetoric and reality. Tsipras wants to rip up the deal but he softened his tone to use words like "renegotiate" and a haircut of the $300 billion debt. Just yesterday, Chancellor Merkel said she wanted Greece to remain part of the European story and Greece has begun to make progress. Both sides have a lot to lose if Greece drops out now.

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