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