SYRIZA con­fi­dent of elec­tion win

Financial Mirror (Cyprus) - - FRONT PAGE -

The rad­i­cal left SYRIZA party, that came to power on an anti-aus­ter­ity plat­form but later back­tracked on its pledges, is con­fi­dent that it can win a snap elec­tion next month.

Energy Min­is­ter Panos Sk­ourletis, a se­nior mem­ber of the SYRIZA-led gov­ern­ment which re­signed on Thurs­day, also said the na­tion must avoid dead­lock lead­ing to a sec­ond round of elec­tions – a sce­nario that politi­cians are al­ready de­bat­ing even though a first round has yet to be called.

SYRIZA, which dur­ing its seven months in power took Greece to the brink of fi­nan­cial col­lapse and exit from the euro, is con­fi­dent but re­mains be­set by in­ter­nal di­vi­sions even af­ter it for­mally split last week.

“An ab­so­lute ma­jor­ity in par­lia­ment for SYRIZA is achiev­able,” Sk­ourletis said, play­ing down the pos­si­bil­ity of a post­elec­tion deal with the main pro-bailout groups – the con­ser­va­tive New Democ­racy, cen­trist To Po­tami or the so­cial­ist PA­SOK.

“For col­lab­o­ra­tions to be po­lit­i­cally cred­i­ble, they must be based on an ex­ist­ing con­ver­gence of pro­grammes, a com­mon ground,” he said. “I do not see this po­lit­i­cal cred­i­bil­ity with the forces of New Democ­racy, Po­tami or PA­SOK.”

Pres­i­dent Prokopis Pavlopou­los has so far tasked two op­po­si­tion par­ties – New Democ­racy and SYRIZA off­shoot Pop­u­lar Unity – with try­ing to form a new gov­ern­ment af­ter Prime Min­is­ter Alexis Tsipras quit and sent SYRIZA into tur­moil.

With par­ties deeply di­vided over the bailout and its tough con­di­tions, New Democ­racy has al­ready failed to find coali­tion part­ners.

Pop­u­lar Unity leader, Panayi­o­tis Lafaza­nis, has al­ready ad­mit­ted de­feat and is us­ing his three-day pres­i­den­tial man­date merely to win air time for his anti-bailout mes­sage.

Once his man­date ex­pires on Wed­nes­day night, Pres­i­dent Pavlopou­los is ex­pected to make a fi­nal at­tempt to achieve a com­pro­mise among the par­ties, which is also cer­tain to fail, af­ter which he will ap­point a care­taker premier and call elec­tions within 30 days.

No opin­ion poll has been pub­lished since July 24, well be­fore Tsipras re­signed and SYRIZA split. Poll­sters say it is hard to muster a rep­re­sen­ta­tive sam­ple when many vot­ers are on hol­i­day.

How­ever, most are now re­turn­ing to the cities and polls are ex­pected to start ap­pear­ing shortly.

SYRIZA is bank­ing on the as­sump­tion that Tsipras re­mains pop­u­lar for stand­ing up to the eu­ro­zone and IMF cred­i­tors, even though he even­tu­ally caved in and ac­cepted their de­mands for more aus­ter­ity and eco­nomic re­forms in re­turn for 86 bln eu­ros in bailout loans.

Some 43 out of the 149 SYRIZA MPs re­belled ear­lier this month by re­fus­ing to back the bailout in Par­lia­ment. But only 25 left to form the Pop­u­lar Unity, mean­ing Tsipras has to deal with a siz­able num­ber of anti-bailout deputies within SYRIZA, in­clude the speaker of par­lia­ment Zoe Con­stan­topoulou and for­mer Fi­nance Min­is­ter Yanis Varoufakis.

Pop­u­lar Unity ap­pealed to SYRIZA doubters to de­fect. “Be­ing pro-bailout and anti-bailout in the same party can­not go on,” said Costas La­pavit­sas, a for­mer SYRIZA law­maker who joined the break­away group and an economist who ar­gues Greece would be bet­ter off leav­ing the euro.

Panayi­o­tis Lafaza­nis, the for­mer energy min­is­ter who broke away to spear­head the Pop­u­lar Unity, for­merly the ‘left plat­form’ within SYRIZA, called for the vote to take place af­ter Septem­ber 20 and for the par­ties to agree to pro­por­tional rep­re­sen­ta­tion. How­ever, the leader of the third-largest par­lia­men­tary group, has to re­turn the man­date on Thurs­day, which means elec­tions could still be held on Septem­ber 20. There also ap­pears no prospect of the elec­toral law chang­ing.

The man­date was re­lin­quished by New Democ­racy leader Evan­ge­los Meimarakis on Mon­day af­ter he used it for the full three days al­lowed. Meimarakis in­sisted that a new coali­tion gov­ern­ment could be formed from the cur­rent Par­lia­ment but blamed his lack of suc­cess in this di­rec­tion on Tsipras for not meet­ing him over the week­end.

Lafaza­nis also asked for a meet­ing with Tsipras, which the SYRIZA leader de­clined. In­stead, the lat­ter ad­dressed a meet­ing of SYRIZA’s po­lit­i­cal sec­re­tar­iat to dis­cuss the party’s strat­egy for the up­com­ing elec­tion con­test. The mes­sage Tsipras sent out at the meet­ing was that he is not open to an elec­tion co­op­er­a­tion with the par­ties rep­re­sent­ing Greece’s es­tab­lish­ment.

His com­ments, aimed at New Democ­racy and PA­SOK, are part of SYRIZA’s strat­egy to drum up sup­port and en­sure it does not lose float­ing vot­ers to other par­ties.

Tsipras is ex­pected to have a hands-on role in draw­ing up SYRIZA’s can­di­date list, which is ex­pected to in­clude fig­ures who are not party mem­bers. The left­ist leader suf­fered a blow Mon­day when party sec­re­tary Tas­sos Koron­akis an­nounced his res­ig­na­tion and de­clared his dis­plea­sure with the gov­ern­ment’s ac­tions.

Mean­while, pro-bailout and cen­trist To Po­tami Stavros Theodor­akis has chal­lenged the out­go­ing Min­is­ter and New Democ­racy leader Meimarakis tele­vised de­bate.

“Hav­ing the par­al­lel mono­logues of 7 or 8 po­lit­i­cal lead­ers pro­duces no re­sults,” the party said in a state­ment. leader Prime

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