SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras attempted on Thursday to quickly kill off any new speculation about whether his party is committed to keeping Greece in the single currency by saying that its aim is to “save the country in the euro.”
Tsipras was forced to clarify the party’s position after comments by veteran MP Manolis Glezos indicated that SYRIZA might consider a return to the drachma. In an interview with Alpha TV, Tsipras ruled this out. “There is no issue with the euro,” he said.
With his party enjoying only marginal leads in most opinion polls ahead of European Parliament elections on May 25, Tsipras will be wary that any confusion about where his party stands on vital issues could prove highly damaging. The leftist leader also tried to clear up comments by SYRIZA’s economic spokesman, Yiannis Dragasakis, regarding referendums. He insisted that if they come to power the leftists would not hold a vote on euro membership but would opt for plebiscites on key issues.
“Referendums are part of our strategy,” said Tsipras. “This is because we will have nothing else to lean on but the constant renewal of support from voters.”
The opposition leader’s comments come as New Democracy and SYRIZA prepare to get their campaigns, including for the May 18 local elections, in full gear. The leftists have already run a series of ads with the slogan “We vote and they go” to emphasize that SYRIZA wants the European Parliament vote to act as a referendum on whether the coalition government should remain in power.
In its second phase the campaign will focus on a more positive message, namely SYRIZA’s attempt to provide an alternative to the coalition’s austerity program. The party’s campaign is being devised by Athens-based strategy consultancy Cleverbank, which has worked with PASOK in the past.
New Democracy has turned to The Newtons Laboratory, which drew up the conservatives’ campaign for the 2012 national elections. Prime Minister Antonis Samaras is expected to feature heavily and the campaign’s emphasis will be on the government’s achievements so far.
However, the conservatives are also encouraged by opinion polls they have commissioned with MRB showing that some 55 percent of Greeks doubt SYRIZA has the ability to ensure economic stability.