In what was seen as an election campaign dress rehearsal on Wednesday, party leaders clashed in Parliament over a wide range of issues, including the conclusion of Greece’s final bailout review, lawlessness and the name dispute with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM).
Party leaders took turns lambasting the government and Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras over what they said was a below par performance in handling a series of pressing national issues, and that elections are a way out of the impasse.
“Democracy has no dead ends and the ballot box is cathartic. Give the Greek people the chance to take a stance,” New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis said, addressing Tsipras.
He urged him not to force the people to wait any longer, as the leftist-led government has only months left in office.
Elections, he said, will pit action against empty words, while the government’s post-bailout growth plan will be measured against ND’s cost analysis of its own program.
For his part, Tsipras ruled out the possibility of early elections, as it would jeopardize Greece’s clean bailout exit. Elections before the country is due to end its third adjustment program, he said, “means we would not exit the bailout.”
Mitsotakis described the talk of a clean exit from Greece’s bailout as “the latest dirty lie” peddled by Tsipras.
He also called on the premier to deny speculation that the government is revisiting “Ilinden Macedonia” as a candidate name for FYROM. The name had been rejected by Greek political party leaders and the government last Saturday.
Tsipras limited himself to saying that negotiations are taking place based on the four name proposals submitted by United Nations mediator Matthew Nimetz.
The debate had been requested by Movement for Change leader Fofi Gennimata, who echoed the same sentiments as the conservative leader, reiterating her call for elections.
She said the coalition of SYRIZA and Independent Greeks has neither a plan nor the political legitimacy to take the decisions necessary to pull the country of its crisis.
Tsipras responded that history will show that New Democracy and PASOK were the parties that bankrupted the country and that “the coalition led it to recovery and to a period of hope and social justice.”