Venizelos raises doubts about whether coalition will survive elections

PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos has again raised the specter of his party departing the coalition if the center-left Olive Tree alliance it will be running as part of in the May 25 European Parliament elections performs poorly at the ballot box.

Venizelos’s return to the subject caused friction in the two-party government on Wednesday.

In a televised interview broadcast late on Tuesday, Venizelos told Alpha TV that if the election result raises questions about the coalition’s political legitimacy he would hold talks with President Karolos Papoulias (to inform him that PASOK would be leaving the government) rather than Prime Minister Antonis Samaras (to discuss where the coalition would go next).

“Or MPs would not be able to support bills, the government would not be able to function properly; there would be constant doubts,” said Venizelos to explain why the coalition would not survive a poor elections result.

The PASOK leader did not put a precise figure on what he believes would constitute a reasonable result for the Olive Tree. SYRIZA MP Dimitris Papadimoulis suggested this week that if support for his party is able to surpass what New Democracy and PASOK garner together it would cause a “political earthquake.”

Sources said that the prime minister and his aides were angered by Venizelos’s comments as they believe he is creating a sense of instability around the coalition.

In an interview on ANT1 TV, SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras said the upcoming elections would be “the referendum on the memorandum that didn’t happen in May 2010,” referring to Greece’s first bailout agreement with its troika of international creditors.

Though emphasizing that SYRIZA does not “hold a magic wand that will take us back to 2009,” Tsipras did mention certain changes the leftists were committed to bringing about. He said these would include the restoration of the minimum wage, which was reduced to 586 euros from 750.

The leftist leader said his party would also focus on stabilizing the economy to draw investment and create much-needed jobs, but he didn’t elaborate. Tsipras further repeated his challenge to have a televised debate with Samaras, noting that the premier could set the terms.