Tsipras rules out coalition with main opposition

Left-wing Syriza leader Alexis Tsipras says forming coalition with centre-right New Democracy would be ‘unnatural’

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Former PM and leftist Syriza party leader Tsipras and New Democracy conservative leader Vangelis Meimarakis attend a televised debate in Athens

As Greece is heading to the polls on Sept. 20, former Prime Minister, Alexis Tsipras rejected a coalition with centre-right New Democracy leader Vangelis Meimarakis, on Monday during a TV debate.

Tsipras said that making a grand coalition with centre-right is “unnatural.”

Tsipras’ rival, Meimarakis said to Greek state broadcaster ERT Newmedia, that Greek citizens want stability. Meimarakis also stressed that stability can only be reached with a grand coalition.

"We can have a national team not only in the governance of the country, but also a national negotiating team [for Greece's bailout]," he said.

Polls show left-wing Syriza party and centre-right New Democracy neck-and-neck and neither party is expected to get enough votes to form a single party government.

Tsipras during the TV debate stated that the two sides have "fundamental differences," so a unity government would not be possible.

“There is no doubt that immediately after the elections, this country will have a government, but it will have either a progressive or a conservative government,” said the 41-year-old Syriza leader Tsipras.

Meimarakis accused Tsipras for wrecking the economy while in power, but Tsipras responded with that he wants to continue to fight against poverty and corruption.

Prime Minister Tsipras, agreed with international creditors to strike an austerity-attached bailout agreement that included more cuts.

After the agreement, a revolt by far left members of his party forced Tsipras to resign from office and to call for snap elections to get more support from Greek voters over the bailout agreement

As the election is less than a week away, Metron Analysis poll results broadcast on Antenna TV before the debate showed New Democracy tied with Syriza at 24.6 percent of the vote.

“I ask for a parliamentary majority, but I will respect the result, and as soon as I get the mandate, I will seek the widest possible consensus, so that we can have a government,” Tsipras said.

Meimarakis also called Tsipras “the 60-euro prime minister,” referring to the daily limit on ATM withdrawals when the banks were shut-down during bailout talks in Greece earlier this year.

People watch a televised electoral debate in Syntagma square in Athens

According to Bloomberg Business, a professor of economics at NYU Stern School of Business, Nicholas Economides stated that the debate “showed that Mr Tsipras believes that he was successful in the negotiation with the EU, despite the resulting capital controls, reversal of growth to a significant recession in 2015, and severe losses of the public’s money invested in Greek banks.”

“Neither candidate committed on specific ways to adjust or modify the agreement and reduce its severity since it was signed at worst possible point of time for Greece,” he added.

Athens University of Economics and Business professor George Pagoulatos said that, “Tsipras did a relatively convincing job in defending a rather disastrous government record, mainly building on his strategy of neutralizing criticism by admitting many of his mistakes,” adding “Both looked likable and energetic -- but Tsipras looked his 20 years younger, which is always an advantage in an election.”

TRTWorld and agencies