The leader of the main left-wing opposition SYRIZA, Alexis Tsipras, on Saturday called for action to be taken to put a brake on the debt-ridden country’s slide into an ever-deepening recession and for the foundations to be laid for “a post-troika era,” referring to the country’s three international lenders.
Speaking on the sidelines of the Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF), Tsipras said that the country’s traders and entrepreneurs could no longer endure the impact of an “absurd fiscal policy.”
“The protracted recession, the unprecedented crisis that has hit our country is suffocating the real economy,” the leftist leader said, adding that it was time for the opposition to lead a shift in economic policy. “We are obliged to change direction, we are obliged to overhaul the prospects for growth in the economy,” Tsipras said.
The SYRIZA chief met with representatives of local business associations and unionists in the northern port city and was to elaborate on his party’s vision for a shift in economic policy at a press conference on Sunday. Tsipras, whose party sailed into second place in the June general elections after campaigning on a tough anti-austerity platform, was expected to reiterate SYRIZA’s opposition to the country’s second bailout, signed between the previous Socialist government and the European Commission, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund last February.
Tsipras’s party has been emboldened by the waning popularity and cohesion of the country’s conservative-led coalition and recent opinion polls put it neck-and-neck with conservative New Democracy as public opposition to new austerity peaks ahead of the scheduled announcement of another 11.5 billion euros in cuts.
As the head of the main opposition party, Tsipras insisted on going ahead with the traditional speech and press conference on the second week at TIF and criticized Prime Minister Antonis Samaras for canceling his own scheduled speech at the sidelines of the fair last week. For decades, the fair has been used by Greek prime ministers to set out economic policy for the year ahead but with austerity talks under way, and budget decisions under the scrutiny of creditors, Samaras decided to break with tradition this year.