Faced with intensifying calls for snap polls from the main opposition parties, Greece’s leftist-led government is sticking to the mantra that it will see through its four-year term. Despite government accusations that the opposition is jeopardizing the country’s future amid ongoing talks regarding the nature of post-bailout supervision, analysts agree that Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras wants to maintain an element of surprise concerning the timing of possible early elections. They also add that he will not be able to drag it out past the spring of 2019 when European Parliament elections are held, however.
In the meantime, Tsipras’s efforts to shift the agenda onto more positive territory have been upset after Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos contradicted the government’s narrative of a clean exit from Greece’s bailout program, which is set to expire in August. Sources attribute Tsakalotos’s position to his certainty that Greece’s post-bailout agreement with creditors will be a far cry from the expectations being cultivated by the Maximos Mansion.
Further damage to Tsipras’s upbeat rhetoric has been inflicted by skepticism over the government’s stance in a row with businessman Vangelis Marinakis, following the awkward handling of the Novartis bribery case. Critics claim that the government sought to preempt justice. Meanwhile, attempts to link the shipowner to New Democracy seem to have backfired after Marinakis admitted to having repeatedly met with leading SYRIZA officials.
Analysts say that conservative leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis’s renewed call for early elections is only partly driven by efforts to galvanize conservative voters. More significantly, the party is keen to be in fighting mode, expecting that elections may be called after August.
Similar calls from Movement for Change leader Fofi Gennimata are seen as an effort to strengthen the new center-left party’s leverage but also to accentuate the dividing lines with SYRIZA. This is not only in response to a recent overture from the ruling leftists, but also a means of potentially offsetting the migration of SYRIZA voters towards New Democracy, a trend reflected in recent opinion polls.