NEWS

Tsipras seeks to boost flagging support in Thessaloniki

STAVROS PAPANTONIOU

TAGS: Politics

In the wake of a fierce clash in Parliament over the contentious name deal with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras is expected to try to boost leftist SYRIZA’s flagging support in northern Greece on Friday with a speech in Thessaloniki.

The speech to party cadres and supporters has been heralded on posters declaring, “Yes to a Macedonia of democracy and solidarity,” an apparent attempt to appease residents of Thessaloniki, the capital of the Greek region of Macedonia, many of whom ardently oppose the so-called Prespes deal, deeming that it could fuel irredentist ambitions in FYROM.

The Balkan country’s Premier Zoran Zaev exacerbated those fears with recent references to a “Macedonian” identity and language, prompting Tsipras’s coalition partner, Panos Kammenos, to declare that the deal “has died.”

Meanwhile, ahead of a vote to revoke pension reductions planned for January, conservative New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis accused the government of trading “the non-cutting of pensions for the Macedonia [deal].”

Describing that claim as “vulgar” on Wednesday, Tsipras’s office called on Mitsotakis and ND to name the European leaders that participated in the alleged deal to which the conservative leader referred.

Tsipras is expected to try to appease public anger over the Prespes deal in Thessaloniki on Friday. According to sources, the aim is to limit potential losses by his SYRIZA party which fared reasonably well in the September 2015 elections, winning in seven out of the country’s 13 prefectures, thanks in part to strong support in parts of northern Greece.

Political rhetoric is expected to intensify as Mitsotakis is to open a party conference in Athens while Tsipras makes his speech in Thessaloniki.

A new opinion poll, carried out by Alco for Open TV, puts ND 6.2 percentage points ahead of SYRIZA with 27.6 percent compared to 21.4 percent. Neo-Nazi Golden Dawn is in third place with 7.2 percent followed by the Communist Party with 6.2 percent and the centrist Movement for Change with 5.4 percent.

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