Early elections seen on horizon for Greece

Greek prime minister hopes nearing multi-billion-euro bailout deal would end uncertainty over Greece’s future

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Early elections are "likely" in Greece in the fall, a government spokeswoman said Wednesday as Athens races to hammer out a new bailout deal with its creditors by Aug. 20.

"Elections are likely in the autumn," government spokeswoman Olga Gerovasili told Vima radio.

"It mainly depends on how steady this government can be in the coming period," she added.

The radical government of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has seen its support dwindle in parliament after agreeing to a third rescue package containing more austerity cuts on July 13.

In two successive reform votes last month, over 30 lawmakers from the ruling Syriza party refused to approve the measures.

Tsipras fears a repeat when the full agreement comes before parliament.

With the support of around a fifth of his lawmakers in doubt, the 41-year-old premier has threatened to call a snap ballot.

European Commission head Jean-Claude Juncker on Wednesday said agreement on the bailout was possible by Aug. 20.

"All the reports I am getting suggest an accord this month, preferably before the 20th," when Greece must repay some 3.4 billion euros ($3.7 billion) due to the European Central Bank, Juncker told AFP in an interview.

Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos on Tuesday told journalists the high-stake talks were going "at least as well as we expected," and that the possibility of an emergency loan for the ECB payment has not figured in the discussions.

"We are very confident that we are very close to a final text," Gerovasili, the government spokeswoman, said.

But she added that the talks would nevertheless continue to the end of the year.

"We will have application legislation, and points on which the negotiation will not have ended even until the end of the year, such as labour and non-performing loans," she said.

Greece on Wednesday raised 812.5 million euros ($890 million) in six-month treasury bills.