PM accuses SYRIZA of undermining Greece, as Venizelos eyes wider coalition

In his most outspoken attack yet during this election campaign, Prime Minister Antonis Samaras accused SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras of trying to destabilize Greece as it attempts to exit the crisis. This tirade came as PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos suggested he would seek the formation of a wider governing coalition after the May 25 European Parliament vote.

“I want to publicly accuse Mr Tsipras, in front of the Greek people, of undermining the national effort,” Samaras told an audience in Thessaloniki. “While all Europeans are preparing to elect representatives for the European Parliament, Mr Tsipras is calling on Greeks to bring down their government.”

Samaras argued that Tsipras is putting the possibility of an economic recovery this year at risk.

“He sees the elections as a vehicle for destabilization... at a time when more than ever we need to follow a steady path to capitalize on what we have achieved through so many sacrifices,” added the premier, as he expressed his support for New Democracy’s candidate for Central Macedonia governor, Yiannis Ioannidis.

In two television interviews on Thursday, one broadcast on Star channel and the other on ANT1, Venizelos indicated that he would approach President Karolos Papoulias after the elections to discuss the prospects for forming a broad “unity government” irrespective of how the PASOK-backed Elia alliance and other parties fare. Venizelos suggested that – beyond New Democracy and PASOK – such a unity government should include Democratic Left, which quit the coalition last June over the closure of former state broadcaster ERT – as well as SYRIZA.

“The government must make an effort to rally all political forces,” Venizelos said, indicating that the common goal should be to project an impression of unity beyond any pro- or anti-memorandum dilemmas.

Venizelos appealed to those “flirting with” the idea of voting for SYRIZA to avoid doing so, describing such a choice as “a dangerous game.” “If someone thinks SYRIZA will bring back all that was lost between 2010 and 2014, they are mistaken,” he said.

The PASOK leader also commented on the ongoing revelations by the Financial Times about behind-the-scenes developments at a G20 summit in Cannes in 2011, telling ANT1 that eurozone finance ministers were asked to work on a euro exit plan for Greece but that he refused.