NEWS

Greek opposition leader lays into government, calls for snap polls

As the fragile coalition struggled to hold its own in talks with the troika on Monday following a decision to freeze a merger between National Bank of Greece and Eurobank, the leader of the main leftist opposition SYRIZA party, Alexis Tsipras, on Monday accused the government of having become the “pushover of Europe” after negotiating feebly with the troika and called for early elections.

“Whatever they tell them, they just accept it,” Tsipras told a gathering of Hellenic Railways Organization (OSE) workers in Athens, referring to government officials’ stance in talks with foreign envoys. He condemned the government for repeatedly demanding that SYRIZA make public its alternative plan for the country’s economic recovery, charging that the coalition’s own plan “consists of accepting whatever the troika demands.”

In an op-ed published in the Efimerida ton Syntakton daily, meanwhile, Tsipras went further, accusing the government of “surrendering” to the troika and called on Prime Minister Antonis Samaras to seek alliances with Southern European states in a bid to stop the austerity drive in the eurozone. The leftist also mocked the role of PASOK and Democratic Left in the coalition and called for early elections.

Responding to press reports according to which Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras supposedly told the troika that it was exerting too much pressure on the coalition and he would turn over the keys to the Finance Ministry to the SYRIZA leader, Tsipras said Samaras “might as well hand us the keys now” if he was not prepared to try to forge alliances.

Objections to the government’s handling of negotiations with the troika, particularly on the bank deal, were not restricted to opposition parties. Sources close to PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos noted that the Socialist party had highlighted the potential problems of merger between National Bank of Greece and Eurobank “early on.” PASOK is reportedly keen for at least NBG to remain under state control.

Democratic Left, the third party in the coalition, has a similar stance to PASOK, Kathimerini understands.