Former Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras on Sunday called on voters to back his Syriza party as the country prepares for the second snap election in less than a year.
Tsipras resigned on August 20 and called for the September 20 election after 30 MPs from his party walked out of a parliament vote on European Union austerity measures ahead of an agreement on a debt bailout package.
The walkout stripped Tsipras of his majority in the Greek Parliament; he said he felt he no longer had the mandate of the people who voted the leftist Syriza into power last January.
In the end, Tsipras did manage to get parliament to ratify the bailout deal, but only by reaching out to the political opposition.
The walkout MPs have since formed their own splinter party called Laiki Enotita (Popular Unity), led by former energy minister Panagiotis Lafazanis.
In addition to the MP defection, some 50 members of Syriza’s central committee have also joined the Popular Unity party.
They blame Tsipras for caving in to severe austerity measures which he had opposed in July when 61 per cent of Greeks gave him the referendum mandate to reject EU proposals for an agreement on the bailout.
Now, Tsipiras is again asking Greeks to give him a mandate to begin implementing the austerity measures, which include slashing defense and agriculture subsidies, reforming the pensions regimen, increasing privatization, raising taxes, removing value-added-tax discounts, and increasing deregulation.
He may get that mandate, but just barely.
Polls on Sunday gave Tsipras and what remains of his party a slight margin, less than 3 per cent, ahead of his main opposition New Democracy party.
However, he is unlikely to win a majority. He has ruled out forming a coalition government.
Many polled Greeks said they disagree with the decision to hold a snap election and believe this could backfire and once again threaten Athens’ place in the EU.
The BRICS Post with inputs from Agencies