Anti-bailout Syriza wants early election date
Opposition leader Alexis Tsipras of the leftist anti-EU bailout Syriza has called on other party leaders to set a date for an early election, arguing that polls must be held before the government signs a new binding deal with the troika of international lenders. The fragile coalition government is under pressure ahead of a crucial presidential vote next February, which could trigger a snap election and bring Tsipras’s radical leftist party to power. In an effort to gain public support, Prime Minister Antonis Samaras’ government hopes to negotiate an early exit from the 240 bln euro EU-IMF bailout by the end of this year, ahead of schedule, and Tsipras said after meeting President Karolos Papoulias that a future Syriza government would not respect decisions made without its consent.
The country’s next scheduled parliamentary election is set for the summer of 2016, but a snap poll would be called if Samaras fails to elect his nominee for president, support for which he currently does not have with Syriza leading opinion polls with a 4 to 11 percentage point margin over the Prime Minsiter’s New Democracy conservatives.
Samaras, who also met Papoulias on Monday, said he refused to bow to Tsipras’s demand for an early election, saying he was convinced parliament would elect a new president in February.
“We’ve walked too long a road to blow everything up now,” Samaras told reporters.
Samaras’s coalition government has 155 deputies in the 300-seat parliament and needs the support of 180 MPs to secure victory for its candidate. Syriza and other anti-bailout parties have promised to block his candidate.
Meanwhile, a senior official in Brussels was quoted as saying that Greece is “highly unlikely” to end its bailout programme this year without some new form of assistance that will require it to meet targets.
“A completely clean exit is highly unlikely. We will have to explore what other options there are. Whatever options we may be adopting, it will be a contractual relationship between the euro area institutions and the Greek authorities,” the official said. The government in Athens has said it wants its bailout to end when EU funding stops, though the IMF is scheduled to stay on to early 2016.
The EU official said he expected euro zone ministers and Greece to decide on a final outcome at a meeting of finance ministers in Brussels on December 8.
Policymakers have said that the most likely tool for the new financial aid is an Enhanced Conditions Credit Line, or ECCL, from the European Stability Mechanism.
That means that Greece would continue to remain under detailed surveillance from the European Commission for the duration of the credit line.
Official have also suggested that unused eurozone funds earmarked for the recapitalisation of Greek banks could be used in a new credit line. The Greek bank bailout fund HFSF has a buffer of about 11 bln euros and the results of last week’s European Central Bank stress tests showed that only a fraction of that will be needed.