President Prokopis Pavlopoulos is expected on Thursday to begin the process for Greece to hold its second set of snap elections this year.
At 1 p.m. Panayiotis Lafazanis, the leader of Popular Unity, is due to hand back the exploratory mandate he received to the president. This will then set a chain of events in motion that will lead to a caretaker government being installed and the date for elections being set.
It remains likely that Pavlopoulos will not attempt to convene a meeting of party leaders to explore whether it is possible to form a government from the current Parliament. Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and his coalition partner, Defense Minister Panos Kammenos, have indicated that they are not interested in taking part in such talks.
“We have to move toward elections on September 20 quickly so the government can continue its work, so we can move toward tomorrow with stability,” said Kammenos in a brief statement.
Pavlopoulos’s apparent reluctance to call the leaders’ meeting has frustrated the opposition parties, particularly New Democracy. However, former Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos, a constitutional expert, suggested that the president would be acting within the rules by calling each leader individually rather than bringing them together for a meeting.
Tsipras told Alpha TV in an interview Wednesday that he will not ask to be prime minister if SYRIZA wins the vote but has to form a government with New Democracy, To Potami or PASOK. Tsipras did not rule out the possibility of SYRIZA being part of such a coalition, though.
He also praised the current finance minister for helping secure an agreement with lenders on Greece’s third bailout.
“Euclid Tsakalotos has done a marvelous job and it’s true that if he wasn’t for him, we wouldn’t have achieved a deal,” he said.
In contrast, Tsipras was critical of Tsakalotos’s predecessor as finance minister, Yanis Varoufakis.
Tsipras recalled one session of particularly tough negotiations in June – just before he closed Greek banks for three weeks to save them from collapse – with International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde, European Central Bank head Mario Draghi and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker.
“Varoufakis was talking but nobody paid any attention to him. They had switched off, they didn’t listen to what he was saying,” said Tsipras. “He had lost his credibility.”