SYRIZA confident of election win
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