NEWS

Greece faces repeat of elections, Theodorakis says

NIKOS CHRYSOLORAS & DAPHNE KARNEZI

TAGS: Politics, Euro

Former Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’s refusal to cooperate with pro-European parties after next month’s ballot may complicate the formation of a government and force voters back to the ballots, To Potami party leader Stavros Theodorakis said.

“The risk is that if SYRIZA doesn’t get an absolute majority in parliament, that if the allies it wants don’t make it to parliament, then we’ll go to new elections again in November and December,” Theodorakis said in an interview from his party’s headquarters in Athens, on Thursday.

Tsipras resigned last week after relying on opposition votes to get the country’s bailout through parliament amid a party revolt. Even as the incumbent leader remains popular, sentiment among a vote-weary public has soured over unkept promises to end an age of austerity. At stake is the implementation of measures agreed with creditors in return for the 86 billion-euro ($97 billion) rescue package.

Supreme Court President Vassiliki Thanou was sworn in caretaker prime minister on Thursday, and is expected to lead the country to elections Sept. 20. It will be the third time Greeks go to the polls this year after an election in January and referendum in July on whether to accept more belt- tightening. Thanou is the sixth prime minister to assume office in Greece since the debt crisis began.

“The risk is that we’ll become a country which will hold elections every three to six months, while what we should be doing is unite and make decisions,” said Theodorakis, a journalist by profession, who founded centrist party River, or “Potami” in Greek, last year.

Bailout backing

He, along with main opposition New Democracy party and center-left Pasok, backed the bailout agreement struck between Tsipras and euro-area member states in July, when about a quarter of Syriza’s lawmakers staged a mutiny against the premier’s choice to compromise with creditors.

In an interview with Alpha TV on Wednesday, Tsipras ruled out leading a coalition as premier with the pro-Europe parties after the vote, leaving the door open to a possible unity government.

“We have major differences with Tsipras, but it is the people who are going to decide who will govern the country,” Theodorakis said. If the result of the election forces parties to form a coalition which includes SYRIZA, then To Potami, which had 17 lawmakers in the previous parliament, is ready to discuss such prospect, according to Theodorakis.

Theodorakis dismissed reassurances by European governments that September’s ballot won’t derail the execution of the country’s commitments, adding that elections will add further strain to Greece’s damaged economy.

Theodorakis, whose party secured 6.1 percent of the vote in last January’s election, said that Tsipras’s policy U-turn, which took place in a party leaders meeting the day after the referendum, was “compulsory,” according to Theodorakis. “What matters now is that he believes in it.”

[Bloomberg]

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