With opinion polls indicating that the September 20 elections will be very close, Alexis Tsipras told his SYRIZA members on Saturday that there is no time for mourning after the split in their party caused by the agreement for the country’s third bailout.
“Whoever wants to mourn, can mourn,” he said at party conference in Athens. “Whoever wants to escape has the right to escape. We are moving forward, only forward.”
“Only forward” will also be SYRIZA’s slogan during the brief election campaign.
The weekend conference was aimed at overcoming navel-gazing within the party following the departure of a large group of rebel MPs who created the anti-bailout Popular Unity party. “This marks the official start of SYRIZA’s election campaign, with the aim of rallying the party’s organized forces and the grassroots ahead of the new phase in the battle,” Tsipras told members.
Apart from the split with its left wing, SYRIZA has also been rocked by a series of opinion polls indicating that it has only a narrow lead over New Democracy. The surveys also point to an underlying dissatisfaction with the performance of the SYRIZA-Independent Greeks coalition.
A Macedonia University poll for Skai TV and Radio found that 56.5 percent of voters had a negative view of the government’s performance. Only 16 percent felt it was positive. In terms of the handling of the economy, the coalition scored only 2.9 points out of a maximum 10. Its highest score came in the field of foreign policy, where it garnered just 3.7 out of 10.
New Democracy is hoping that apart from holding on to the votes it gained in January, it will also be able to persuade disgruntled voters who migrated to SYRIZA at the beginning of the year to return to the fold.
The conservatives are expected to present their manifesto on Sunday, September 6, and party leader Evangelos Meimarakis is expected to give his main news conference at the Thessaloniki International Fair a week later.