NEWS

SYRIZA MPs stray from party line on issue of snap elections

Although government officials were due to hold a late night conference call with troika representatives on Thursday night, it was the opposition party that was beginning to show signs of strain.

There was confusion at SYRIZA Thursday as two MPs were forced to backtrack on statements they made in radio interviews which suggested the party might accept a deal to elect a new president in February if the government agrees to hold snap elections next spring.

“Regardless of whether the 180 [votes to elect a president] can be found, I think the government should take the decision to set a date for elections and reach an agreement on the date for such a vote, which could solve the deadlock over the presidential election,” said SYRIZA MP Giorgos Stathakis, a leading figure within the party on economic affairs. “I think this could be a consensual solution, which will free up the system and provide a political way out.”

Fellow lawmaker Stavros Kontonis made a similar suggestion. Both the lawmakers’ comments ran counter to SYRIZA’s party line, which is that the leftists will not support any presidential candidate so they can try to force snap elections.

“There is only one solution: This government has to go immediately,” said SYRIZA hardliner Panayiotis Lafazanis in Parliament. “We demand elections now. There will be no consensus over the presidential election.”

Both Stathakis and Kontonis issued new statements clarifying their positions shortly after their radio interviews. This time, they were in line with their party, arguing that elections should be held first and a president elected after the national ballot.

Further tension was evident within SYRIZA when MP Yiannis Milios slammed comments from parliamentary colleague Alexis Mitropoulos in which he suggested that if SYRIZA is unable to win an outright majority in early elections, it will be forced to continue applying austerity policies.

“Anyone who thinks that there are any circumstances in which SYRIZA will follow the policies set out in the memorandum will have to examine their own stance and place within SYRIZA,” said Milios, one of the party’s representatives on economic issues.