NEWS

Tsipras touts benefits as polls loom

tsipras-touts-benefits-as-polls-loom

With national elections looming – possibly in May – the government plans to push through a series of benefits and handouts for the “socially weak” in a last-ditch effort to bridge the gap in the polls with opposition New Democracy.

More specifically, the government plans to stage a comeback as it were with a three-pronged initiative – the introduction of a scheme to settle arrears to social security funds with 120 monthly installments, resolving the problem of nonperforming loans (NPLs) and home rental subsidies.

In particular, the leftist government is banking on the introduction of the 120-installment scheme in the latter half of March.

Government sources have dubbed the effort to introduce the measure as the “mother of all battles,” given that the gravity of its impact, as it will affect a large portion of the population – some 900,000 people. Moreover, the timing of the measure’s enactment before European Parliament and local elections in May could boost its appeal.

Tellingly, Alternate Labor Minister Tasos Petropoulos said in an interview with the Naftemporiki news site on Monday that those who owe “6,000 euros and above will get 120 installments,” and that they will “pay their debts over a 10-year period.”

Another trump card for the government is its plan to begin retroactivate payments in April worth three months of home rental subsidies.

The online platform where interested parties can submit an application will open on Friday, at the latest, for payments covering the months of January, February and March.

Sources that are privy to the government’s strategy told Kathimerini that the decision as to when national elections will take place will hinge on the public’s response to its relief measures.

Accordingly, if Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras sees that polls show in late March that the gap with the opposition conservatives is closing, then elections will take place in October when the government’s four-year term in office ends.

Otherwise, analysts are predicting that all roads will lead to early elections in May.