As well as preparing to face down conservative New Democracy in a snap general election, which government spokesman Dimitris Tzanakopoulos said on Tuesday would be held on July 7, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras faces upheaval within his leftist party following SYRIZA’s defeat in European Parliament polls.
In a joint interview with state broadcaster ERT and radio station News 24/7, SYRIZA’s party secretary Panos Skourletis lashed out at unidentified government officials over their behavior, suggesting that they had alienated potential voters.
“Certain government officials created an image that I wouldn’t call arrogant but that was not as measured and prudent as it should have been,” he said.
The comment was widely interpreted as a jab at outspoken Alternate Health Minister Pavlos Polakis, who recently ruffled feathers with his criticism of the wheelchair-bound conservative MEP candidate Stelios Kymbouropoulos.
Skourletis also appeared to criticize State Minister Christoforos Vernardakis, one of Tsipras’ closest aides, who had been tasked with observing opinion polls for the government in the countdown to elections.
The fact that virtually everyone in the government camp was surprised by the scale of SYRIZA’s defeat is largely seen as a failure by Vernardakis to adequately assess the public mood. Up until the day of the elections, Vernardakis had been telling Tsipras’ office that the extent of the defeat would fall between 2.8 and 4.5 percentage points, Kathimerini understands.
Former foreign minister Nikos Kotzias weighed in too. Late on Monday, he accused unnamed officials close to Tsipras of “arrogant behavior” and suggested that some “should step aside.” According to sources, Tzanakopoulos was among those in Kotzias’ firing line.
Separately, the government spokesman on Tuesday announced that a snap election would be held on July 7.
Citizens’ Protection Minister Olga Gerovasili also expressed criticism on Tuesday, telling ERT that certain government officials did not manage to adequately communicate the leftist government’s “accomplishments” to the Greek people ahead of the elections.