Kam­menos says he’ll quit pol­i­tics if he doesn’t make it into par­lia­ment

Financial Mirror (Cyprus) - - FRONT PAGE -

In­de­pen­dent Greeks (ANEL) leader Panos Kam­menos said that he will not pur­sue a fur­ther ca­reer in pol­i­tics if his party does not achieve the 3% thresh­old needed to make it into par­lia­ment in Sun­day’s gen­eral elec­tions.

“If the men and women of Greece don’t want me in par­lia­ment, I will not en­ter par­lia­ment. I will re­tire from pol­i­tics if we [In­de­pen­dent Greeks] do not make it into par­lia­ment,” Kam­menos told An­tenna TV on Tues­day morn­ing.

Kam­menos, whose party was the ju­nior part­ner in the pre­vi­ous coali­tion gov­ern­ment with SYRIZA, said that public opin­ion polls show­ing the party at be­low 3%, “are prob­a­bly try­ing to in­flu­ence public opin­ion.”

He ruled out work­ing with SYRIZA again if it were to team up with so­cial­ist PA­SOK, say­ing that “I will not sit on the same gov­ern­ment as [Evan­ge­los] Venize­los,” in ref­er­ence to the for­mer deputy prime min­is­ter and fi­nance chief.

The head of the na­tion­al­ist party added that he would be open to co­op­er­a­tion with cen­tre-right To Po­tami, “if it clar­i­fies its po­si­tion on na­tional is­sues.”

Mean­while, SYRIZA and the New Democ­racy con­ser­va­tives have been stuck in the same place in opin­ion polls for sev­eral weeks - vir­tu­ally neck and neck and well short of par­lia­men­tary ma­jor­ity.

Their re­spec­tive per­sonal rat­ings have also stag­nated slightly be­low 45%.

Both Alexis Tsipras and Vangelis Meimarakis have so far given loyal vot­ers pop­u­lar­ity around or lit­tle rea­son to switch al­le­giance, hav­ing de­voted much of their cam­paigns to trad­ing ac­cu­sa­tions over the coun­try’s ail­ing econ­omy, in­sti­tu­tion­alised cor­rup­tion and re­sponses to the refugee cri­sis.

But vot­ers yet to de­cide which party to back or in­tend­ing to ab­stain al­to­gether - up to a fifth of the elec­torate ac­cord­ing to some polls - of­fer a clearer tar­get.

Voted into of­fice in Jan­uary on an an­ti­aus­ter­ity plat­form, Tsipras forced Sun­day’s elec­tion by re­sign­ing in Au­gust, try­ing to quell a re­bel­lion in his party and win a stronger man­date to im­ple­ment aus­ter­ity mea­sures un­der a EUR 86 bln bailout he ini­tially op­posed.

Nei­ther he nor Meimarakis im­pressed com­men­ta­tors dur­ing a seven-party tele­vised de­bate last Wed­nes­day that many dis­missed as a damp squib.

Both men have said they are anx­ious to avoid a sec­ond round of elec­tions, though the for­mer prime min­is­ter in­sists SYRIZA will have enough sup­port to gov­ern with­out New Democ­racy, while Meimarakis has re­peat­edly talked up the pos­si­bil­ity of a grand coali­tion.

Such an al­liance “would go against na­ture”, Tsipras told state ERT broad­caster on Sun­day.

Chances of him win­ning Sun­day’s out­right look slim.

The few polls this month that have taken ac­count of un­de­cided vot­ers’ pref­er­ences have also been un­able to split the two par­ties, putting both on around 31% - well short of the 36.3% that took SYRIZA into of­fice in late Jan­uary.

But Tsipras’ in­sis­tence on re­ject­ing a grand al­liance could still prove decisive, poll­sters say, cit­ing ev­i­dence from week­end sur­veys that this drove a small swing in SYRIZA’s favour, with Meimarakis’ fo­cus on a coali­tion mak­ing him ap­pear weak.

Meimarakis re­cov­ered his poise dur­ing a news con­fer­ence on Sun­day.

“If he main­tains that stance, he may re­verse the trend that we saw in polls over the week­end,” a poll­ster said.

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