Tsipras Defends New Austerity Deal, Says It’s Greece’s “Golden Opportunity”

FILE -Greek PM Alexis Tsipras leads government’s Cabinet. Photo: Eurokinissi/ Tatiana Bollari.

ATHENS – Greek Premier and Radical Left SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras said his reneging on anti-austerity promises to get more monies from a third bailout of 86 billion euros ($91.3 billion) is a “golden opportunity” to save Greece and that it will get him re-elected.
With polls showing as few as 3 percent of voters still support him for breaking his promises, doing so again in agreeing to demands from the Troika of the European Union-European Central Bank-European Stability Mechanism (EU-ECB-ESM) to further cut pensions and tax low-income families, he said the deal was “defensible in its entirety.”

Tsipras briefed his party’s lawmakers as they prepared for an Easter break worried they could face the wrath of voters furious they have continued to surrender to the Troika and claiming the contradiction was for the good of the country.

Tsipras repeated that the measures agreed to by the government – essentially pension cuts and tax hikes – would result in a “zero fiscal balance” thanks to a set of countermeasures Athens will be allowed to enforce, if it meets budget targets, to offset the impact of austerity, Kathimerini said.

Admitting that, “We have pressure from society due to austerity,” he claimed that the broad agreement reached last week could ultimately boost the government. “It can lead to political success and a new electoral victory” despite polls showing the New Democracy Conservatives. He spoke of “a golden opportunity after the conclusion of the agreement,” widely interpreted as a reference to the prospects for Greek bonds to be included in the ECB’s Quantitative Easing program for access to cash.

New Democracy dismissed Tsipras’s speech to his cabinet as “an admission to his failed policies.” In comments in Parliament Conservative leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis said the government was “ridiculous” and reiterated calls for snap elections.

“Not a single word for the tax free deduction, not a single word for the cuts in pensions and of the citizens’ income and not a single word for the harsh measures bearing his signature” said ND’s announcement pointing out that Tsipras vowed “not one more euro of austerity” before agreeing to the new deal.

“With his obsession and unefficiency and the allegedly harsh negotiation he led the country to recession. Everyone knows that this government can’t promote the necessary changes and can’t take the country out of the crisis,” the statement added.