Tsipras urges MPs to clarify presidential election intentions

SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras has called on opposition and independent MPs to clarify how they intend to vote in February’s presidential election, which could lead to an early national vote, as a new opinion poll indicated that the leftists are expanding their lead over New Democracy.

Speaking at a meeting of SYRIZA’s central committee on Saturday, Tsipras claimed that by maintaining an “equivocal stance” on whether they would back the coalition’s candidate to succeed President Karolos Papoulias, MPs are fueling fears of last-minute back-room deals to ensure that the nominee is elected and early elections are avoided.

“For us the issue is not numerical, it is political,” he said. “It does not have to do with who is president, it has to do with the government no longer having the democratic legitimacy to continue destroying the country.”

Tsipras’s comments came as a survey conducted by the University of Macedonia showed that the leftists are now 7.5 percentage points ahead of New Democracy.

The opinion poll put SYRIZA on 27.5 percent, New Democracy on 20, To Potami 7.5, Golden Dawn 6.5, the Communist Party 5.5, the Olive Tree alliance (PASOK) 4, Independent Greeks 2.5 and Democratic Left (DIMAR) 0.5.

Compared to the previous survey by Macedonia University, which was a month earlier, the gap between SYRIZA and New Democracy has grown by 1.5 percent.

A Metron Analysis survey for Parapolitika newspaper on Saturday indicated that support for SYRIZA is running at 32.9 percent against 26.1 percent for New Democracy.

The Macedonia University poll also suggested that a slightly larger proportion of Greeks (49.5 percent) believes that Parliament should not elect a new president than those (43 percent) who think it is best for MPs to elect one.

However, Deputy Prime Minister and PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos argued on Saturday that early elections and a subsequent SYRIZA-led government would be damaging for Greece. “At best it will prove to be a political fraud but there is the possibility of total disaster, the canceling out of people’s sacrifices,” said Venizelos. “It does not take a lot for the system to collapse.”

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