In a live televised address to the nation, the 41-year-old premier said he had worked hard to secure the best possible rescue package for his country, but he now needed a clear new mandate from the Greek people after it cost him his parliamentary majority.
Tsipras headed to the country’s president, Prokopis Pavlopoulos, and formally submitted his resignation to begin the election process.
The remaining money of an initial 23-billion-euro tranche would be paid at a later stage, the government said, with the overall aid package approved by the eurozone’s finance ministers and national parliaments amounting to 86 billion euros.
Government sources cited by the official news agency ANA said he had proposed elections on September 20. Members of Tsipras’ cabinet have warned in recent weeks that the controversial bailout deal, which has split the prime minister’s leftist Syriza party, would make it necessary to test his and his government’s popularity, either via a confidence vote in Parliament or at the ballot box.
Mr Meimarakis said he would also seek a meeting with the speaker of parliament to seek her contribution in trying to cobble together a government and avoid early elections. Greece’s previous conservative government had agreed to those bailout terms.
Greece faces a snap election after Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras resigned on Thursday, hoping to reboot his leadership with a clean slate after the chaos over a controversial economic bailout from the eurozone.
The party will probably come apart at the seams, as Greek politics realign more clearly into pro-bailout and anti-bailout factions.
“The certainty is that the need for elections has arisen”, Energy and Environment Minister Panos Skourletis said on state television earlier Thursday, according to The Associated Press.
But he alleged that Mr Tsipras was setting a close election date so as not to give the anti-austerity opposition and left-wing dissidents in his own Syriza party time to organise against him. Tsipras will then have the option to return this mandate immediately to the president, which is the expected outcome.
The other group has advised Tsipras not to consider elections before October 11 so the government has a chance to implement its new bailout agreement with lenders and rebuild trust with them.
The political uncertainty took its toll on the market, with the Athens Stock Exchange down 2.8 percent in early afternoon trading. Greece remains under strict capital controls, with weekly limits on cash withdrawals for Greek citizens.