PM mulls tac­tics af­ter party split

Ex-Energy Min­is­ter Panayi­o­tis Lafaza­nis launches Pop­u­lar Unity, vow­ing to can­cel bailout, re­duce debt

Kathimerini English - - Front Page -

Prime Min­is­ter Alexis Tsipras yesterday chaired a meet­ing of SYRIZA’s po­lit­i­cal sec­re­tar­iat to dis­cuss strat­egy ahead of snap elec­tions as for­mer Energy Min­is­ter Panayi­o­tis Lafaza­nis an­nounced his new break­away party, Pop­u­lar Unity, which is to cam­paign on an anti-aus­ter­ity plat­form.

The party, com­pris­ing Lafaza­nis and another 24 SYRIZA hard­lin­ers, will aim to can­cel Greece’s bailouts and write down the coun­try’s debt, Lafaza­nis told a press con­fer­ence in Par­lia­ment. The goals are vir­tu­ally the same as those cham­pi­oned by Tsipras ahead of the Jan­uary elec­tions that brought SYRIZA to power. But Lafaza­nis, who has lob­bied for Greece to re­turn to the drachma, also in­di­cated that his party would “fol­low the course of ex­it­ing the euro” if nec­es­sary, in­sist­ing that any exit would be “or­derly.”

Lafaza­nis, whose party is now the third largest in Par­lia­ment and as such has the right to seek to form a gov­ern­ment, said Pop­u­lar Unity would seek al­liances with all “pro­gres­sive” par­ties ex­cept those that have backed aus­ter­ity. Lafaza­nis is to take over the ex­ploratory man­date on Mon­day from New Democ­racy leader Vangelis Meimarakis, who as­sumed it yesterday.

Tsipras mean­while con­vened his po­lit­i­cal sec­re­tar­iat. Be­fore dis­cussing pre-elec­tion strat­egy, the three mem­bers of the sec­re­tar­iat who are now aligned with Lafaza­nis re­signed. They blamed Tsipras and SYRIZA’s lead­er­ship for the breakup of the party.

Tsipras also took a jab at the SYRIZA rebels. “It is not rev­o­lu­tion­ary to choose to es­cape from re­al­ity or cre­ate a vir­tual re­al­ity,” he was quoted as say­ing. “It is rev­o­lu­tion­ary to open roads where there aren’t any.” As for SYRIZA, he said it “has a chance to de­velop a new re­la­tion­ship with the so­ci­ety that sup­ports it and to ac­quire a clear ide­o­log­i­cal and po­lit­i­cal iden­tity of a con­tem­po­rary, rad­i­cal left, purged of re­ac­tionary rem­nants and self-delu­sion.” The party’s cen­tral com­mit­tee is ex­pected to meet in the week.

It re­mains un­clear when the elec­tions will take place. The pro­posal was for Septem­ber 20 but if the pro­ce­dures in­volv­ing the ex­ploratory man­dates are de­layed, that date could be put back to Septem­ber 27.

Par­lia­ment Speaker Zoe Con­stan­topoulou, another SYRIZA rebel, raised ob­jec­tions yesterday to the pro­ce­dure fol­lowed by Pres­i­dent Prokopis Pavlopou­los in hand­ing a man­date to Meimarakis. She ac­cused Pavlopou­los of an “in­sti­tu­tional faux pas,” say­ing that she had not been in­formed in ad­vance as, she said, the Con­sti­tu­tion dic­tates.

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