Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras indicated on Friday the European elections on May 26 will be a “vote of confidence” in the economic plan and tax breaks presented by the government for 2019 and 2020, noting that “everything is open” if his party suffers defeat in the ballot.
“On Sunday, we do not vote for a government but it is clear that it is not a vote without weight,” he told state-run broadcaster ERT on Friday morning.
“It is clear that people will vote for the political plan with which the country will be governed in the coming years,” he said, adding that if SYRIZA has a strong showing in the polls, he will be able to implement the relief measures announced by the government.
“If I do not receive the vote of confidence I ask for, everything is open,” he added.
Earlier this month, Tsipras announced a series of pension handouts and tax cuts in a last-ditch attempt to shore up support for his leftist SYRIZA ahead of local authority and European elections, while also declaring measures for 2020.
They include a permanent benefit for pensioners who saw their monthly payments cut during the crisis years – some 800 million euros is to be distributed to retirees – as well as a series of cuts to value added tax.
He also announced the immediate reduction of value-added tax on food products and services from 24 percent to 13 percent, and on energy bills from 13 percent to 6 percent.
Tsipras also attacked the European People’s Party (EPP) candidate for European Commission president, Manfred Weber, describing him as a “threatening choice” for Greece, who will block any economic relief measures presented by SYRIZA.
He then suggested that if his party is elected in power again, it will try to block Weber's appointment at the helm of the Commission.
“We cannot have in charge a politician who only cares about the countries in the north,” he said.
Commenting on relations with Turkey, Tsipras said there is always a risk of an incident in the Aegean and expressed concern over the country’s domestic problems.
“Therefore, we have reason to be vigilant and prepared,” but pointed to the alliances Greece has built in the region.
He also cited the bilateral talks to revive confidence-building measures between Greek and Turkish military officials in Athens this week.
The main focus of discussions were a memorandum signed by the foreign ministers of Greece and Turkey in 1988, which included a moratorium on flights by military jets over the Aegean on weekends, holidays and the summer months of July and August.