ATHENS – Besieged on a number of fronts, Prime Minister and Radical Left SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras reportedly is hoping to hold on and stave off the need for snap elections until at least May, 2019, when local and European Parliament elections will be conducted.
Polls must be held by October, 2019 but Tsipras wants to halt more pension cuts set to kick on on Jan. 1 – as he agreed with the country’s international creditors – in hopes of stopping his long free fall in polls for reneging on anti-austerity promises, said Kathimerini.
Another key catalyst is the name deal the anti-nationalist Tsipras made to let the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) be called North Macedonia and open the door its entry into NATO and opening European Union accession, both blocked by Greek vetoes.
Tsipras’ junior coalition partner, the pro-austerity, marginal, jingoistic Independent Greeks (ANEL) of Defense Minister Panos Kammenos oppose the deal and he said he will take his tiny party out of the government when it comes to a vote in Parliament.
That is being scheduled for March – despite a condition both sides have it wrapped up by Januarh, 2019 – so that Tsipras can try to implement some offsetting measures to austerity, along with stopping the pension cuts, but all that is dependent on approval from the country’s lenders, the Troika of the European Union-European Central Bank-European Stability Mechanism (EU-ECB-ESM) that put up a third bailout, for 86 billion euros ($98.07 billion) in 2015.
The Washington, D.C.-based International Monetary Fund (IMF), which took part in two first rescue packages of 240 billion euros ($273.69 billion) but stayed out of the third, being replaced by the ESM, must also concur.
Tsipras’ aides believe, the paper said, that it would take at least three months before benefits of new offsetting measures – if approved – would kick in, negating any chance elections would be held before May.
The Premier will face another obstacle in January when major opposition New Democracy is expected to ask for a vote of no confidence, after Tsipras survived one earlier this year with the backing of ANEL’s seven lawmakers, giving him a three-vote majority in Parliament.
While Kammenos said he would not back Tsipras if another vote of confidence measure is brought he has already essentially broken that promise by saying he wouldn’t bring down the government as polls show his party at 1 percent and unlikely to return to Parliament.
Kammenos has repeatedly barked defiance to SYRIZA policies only to vote for them.