Greece’s main opposition party launched efforts to form a new government Friday following Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’ resignation, but made no progress in what appears a doomed task – which will pave the way for another potentially destabilizing election.
Hard-line lawmakers in Tsipras’ radical left Syriza party announced Friday they were splitting from the party and forming their own anti-austerity movement, which becomes the third largest group in Parliament.
Despite Tsipras’ move to approve a bailout deal that went against Syriza’s anti-austerity election promises, some Greeks who supported Syriza in the elections in January and the bailout referendum in July still have some confidence Tsipras is willing to stand up for Greece. “We do not want to govern against the popular will”, he said, adding that Tspiras and his government were “confident in rightness of our policies and the maturity of the Greek electorate”. Conservative leader Vangelis Meimarakis’ New Democracy party has just 76 members in the 300-seat Parliament, and is unlikely to find enough partners among an opposition that ranges from the KKE communists to the ultra-right Golden Dawn party.
Tsipras still leads by far the biggest party in parliament – Syriza had 149 seats before the 25 anti-bailout rebels under Lafazanis walked out – and he has yet to meet any opposition leader.
“The certainty is that the need for elections has arisen”, Energy and Environment Minister Panos Skourletis said on state television earlier Thursday.
Opting for a fresh election was seen as an attempt by Tsipras to face down the internal challenge by Syriza rebels and strengthen his position. Finnish Finance Minister Alexander Stubb said he did not believe that Tsipras’ resignation would have an impact on the execution of the new loan programme. Tsipras was able to pass the measure with support from pro-bailout legislators from other parties.
So far, Greece’s European creditors seemed sanguine about the election.
The voters, in the finest tradition of Greek democracy, will be choosing between responsible government that can contend with debt through painful reforms, or an uncertainty that could include dropping out of the eurozone.
Giving a comment on the bailout Greece signed with European Central Bank, Giamali agreed that isn’t the best agreement for the unemployed, the working classes, the poor and the pensioners.
However, it is clear that without a new government for several more weeks, the country will fall behind in the reforms it has to make for the bailout. The government “has lost its majority (in parliament) – one can’t avoid this”, Skourletis said.
“Regardless of elections, reforms can be implemented”, a Commission spokeswoman said.
“The next wave of major reforms is expected for October and obviously we will monitor implementation very closely”.
“Now that this hard cycle has come to an end, I wish to submit to your judgment all that we have done”, Tsipras said.