Former prime minister and SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras on Monday issued mixed messages regarding his intentions after snap elections later this month, saying that he remained focused on securing a “clear mandate” in the polls but indicating that SYRIZA could cooperate with smaller parties in the center of the political spectrum.
Echoing his speech on Sunday at the Thessaloniki International Fair, Tsipras told reporters in the northern port city yon Monday that a deal he signed with the country’s international creditors was the best possible outcome for Greece and indicated that he would defend it but also try to improve it. “The deal must be honored with the aim of emerging from supervision,” he said and again challenged any other political leader with a better solution to come forward.
Linking SYRIZA’s key rival, conservative New Democracy, with the irresponsible and corrupt governance that led to Greece’s debt ballooning, Tsipras said the September 20 elections presented voters with a choice between a SYRIZA-led government or ND “and all the sins of the past.”
Pressed about the prospect of an alliance between ND and SYRIZA, Tsipras ruled it out, saying that the ideological differences between the two parties were too large – “it’s like day and night.”
He also questioned the potential of working in a coalition with ND leader Evangelos Meimarakis, who recently described Tsipras as a “liar” and “crafty.” Tsipras also claimed that, notwithstanding his criticism, Meimarakis did not appear to be very keen on governing.
The leftist leader did indicate, however, that SYRIZA could possibly team up with PASOK or Potami if it falls short of an absolute majority, which, he insisted, remained his goal.
Tsipras appeared to put the onus on PASOK and Potami to join a coalition between SYRIZA and the right-wing Independent Greeks (ANEL) even though opinion polls consistently suggest that ANEL will not re-enter Parliament.
“What are they going to do, leave the country without a government?” he said of the smaller parties.
Opinion polls continue to put SYRIZA and ND neck and neck ahead of the September 20 polls.
In an interview with Bloomberg TV, Meimarakis said that if ND comes first in elections and SYRIZA agrees to enter a coalition on the condition that Meimarakis is not prime minister, he would not have a problem with that.
Meimarakis and close aides were finalizing ND’s list of candidates for the elections Monday with prominent deputies Theodoros Fortsakis, Niki Kerameos and Dimitris Stamatis among those slated for the so-called state list, which features candidates who are awarded seats in Parliament according to what percentage of the vote the party garners.
SYRIZA is expected to finalize its state list on Tuesday. It is expected to be topped by former deputy prime minister Yannis Dragasakis. Former finance minister Euclid Tsakalotos is to stand in Athens, as is ex-state minister Alekos Flambouraris, former government spokesman Gavriil Sakellaridis and Nikos Voutsis, interior minister in the last government.
The candidate list of Popular Unity, a party set up last month by SYRIZA rebels, is to include Rachil Makri running in Athens. The choice that riled some leftists as Makri was a deputy with ANEL before SYRIZA.