As Elections Loom, Tsipras Moves SYRIZA Toward Center-Left

(Photo by Eurokinissi/Yorgos Kontarinis, FILE)

ATHENS – With surveys showing he’s on a course to take a pounding loss in elections this year, Prime Minister and Radical Left SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras is slowly seeking support from center-left groups in turmoil over the deal he made to change the name of The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM).

The tiny, once-promising To Potami (The River), a collection of intellectuals and academics led by former then-popular TV journalist Stavros Theodorakis, is down to five Members of Parliament – the minimum needed to have a party – after several defected to back Tsipras in a vote of confidence and said they would back the Premier’s deal to have FYROM be called North Macedonia, giving away the name of the ancient Greek province of Macedonia.

Χημικά στο Σύνταγμα στο συλλαλητήριο για την Μακεδονία

Posted by Εθνικός Κήρυξ / The National Herald on Sunday, January 20, 2019

Needing 151 votes in the 300-member Parliament and with his party having only 145, Tsipras has picked up as many as eight from former rival politicians and alleged Independents amid speculation some may try to join SYRIZA as their only chance of getting back into Parliament.

Even before his former junior coalition partner, the tiny, pro-austerity, jingoistic Independent Greeks (ANEL) of former defense minister Panos Kammenos quit over his objection to the FYROM name deal – two ANEL ministers and two lawmakers he booted said they would back it – Tsipras had been trying to woo the center-left Movement of Change (KINAL) as a partner.

That group is led by veterans of the former PASOK Socialists, a once-dominant party that fell into near oblivion after backing austerity measures and betraying their alleged  principles to join their ideological ruling rival New Democracy in a previous coalition.

Στην πλατεία Συντάγματος το συλλαλητήριο για τη Μακεδονία κατά της Συμφωνίας των Πρεσπών. Περισσότερα στο: bit.ly/2AUbK06Greek Anti-FYROM Name Deal Organizers Expect Massive Protest Turnout. Read more at TNH: bit.ly/2MjszpN

Posted by Εθνικός Κήρυξ / The National Herald on Sunday, January 20, 2019

Although having only around 4-5 percent in surveys, KINAL has 20 lawmakers and a small, hard-core group of supporters still hanging on and could give SYRIZA added weight and make it a possible coalition partner of New Democracy if the Conservatives win.

With speculation Tsipras, in a bid to stay in power, wants to make SYRIZA the new PASOK, he visited the home of Antonis Livanis, a veteran of the Socialists.

Tsipras also shook hands with his otherwise bitter rival, Fofi Gennimata, leader of KINAL, who was also at Livanis’ home but reports said she and Tsipras didn’t speak after that. She has said she would not join SYRIZA but political promises in Greece are easily broken, as Tsipras did when reneging on anti-austerity promises he made to get into power and implementing more only six months into his term in 2015.

That was done to get a third bailout for Greece, this one for 86 billion euros ($97.8 billion) that came with more brutal measures he put on workers, pensioners and the poor after swearing he wouldn’t, an election bloc he’s trying to get back by wiggling out of reforms and handing out benefits.

To Potami lost another two MPs who said they will vote for the FYROM name deal and also quit the party. If one more leaves, Theodorakis’ party that was assembled in a bid to take on the mainstream and revitalize Greek politics, will be dead.

If Tsipras picks up votes from other parties, four MPs who gave him a vote of confidence could vote against the FYROM deal which would still pass and allow them to have it both ways, saying they stood strong against the agreement while pleasing him too.