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But as prime minister, Tsipras ended up performing the biggest political U-turn of recent European history, agreeing to more spending cuts, tax rises and privatisations. Most lawmakers from the hard-left core of his Syriza party have quit in anger.
Now, after seven rollercoaster months at the helm, Tsipras, 41, is asking voters for a second chance, in a tightly-fought election to decide who will lead Greece's angry and impoverished population through its third international bailout programme.
For Sunday's vote, the telegenic Tsipras has moved to the centre-ground to buttress his support, saying he will implement the bailout while also introducing measures to cushion the impact of austerity.
"Syriza needs to strike a balance between its traditional left values and managing the burden of the bailout," said a senior party official, who did not want to be named because of the sensitivity of the issue within the party.
It will not be easy. His main election rival, the leader of the conservative New Democracy party, Vangelis Meimarakis, has teased him over his political transformation, saying in a recent debate: "I don't recognise (Tsipras) anymore."....................
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