ATHENS – His lead shrinking in polls, major opposition New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis said he’s confident his party will win the May 26 European Parliament and Greek municipal elections and the general elections later this year.
He’s had leads of as much as 14.1 percent but one survey said it was only half that for the EU and municipal polls but he said Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras knows his Radical Left SYRIZA is heading for a loss in all the elections.
In an interview with SKAI TV – a station boycotted by SYRIZA and target of a bomb attack previously – Mitsotakis said Tsipras is “very well aware of the fact that he will lose.” Mitsotakis added he wants a “clear victory so that there is no doubt whatsoever in Greek society that we are heading for political change.”
“This is the first time that citizens will have a chance to send the government a message of disapproval,” Mitsotakis added with Tsipras plummeting in polls for four years of repeated reneging on anti-austerity promises in a surrender to the country’s creditors.
Tsipras has frantically been trying to claw his way back into the race with handouts for pensioners decimated by austerity and rolling back some of the taxes he imposed, although the country’s creditors said that could bring sanctions.
Mitsotakis said that SYRIZA has no plan for Greece and that its “economic policy is limited only to handouts,” in a transparent bid to buy back votes after losing supporters in droves when Tsipras broke his word to help workers, pensioners and the poor.
With foreign investors scared off by a 29 percent corporate rate and elements in SYRIZA trying to keep out foreign companies and putting up obstacles to major developments such as the stalled $8 billion renovation of the abandoned Hellenikon International Airport, Mitsotakis said he would lure them.
He said if Greece wants to attract investments, it “needs a strong government that is committed to implementing its program. It needs a different regulatory environment that will implement investments and will not make Greece a destination where investors are given a hard time.”
“These are things a government either understands because it knows how an economy works, or it doesn’t. The government has proven that it will not promote investments,” Mitsotakis said.
He said Tsipras was is “doling out bonuses to pensioners at a time when thousands of pensions are overdue,” referring to people who’ve retired waiting a year or longer to get paid as the social security system is under water with an aging population and many companies and people not paying into it.
Mitsotakis also accused Tsipras of twisting his words when he suggested the New Democracy chief was pushing a “neoliberal agenda” by suggesting that workers at a local tobacco factory could negotiate a longer working week.
“I had spent an hour-and-a-half talking with the union in order to understand the context in which an agreement, on the operational level, could prove beneficial to both the business and the employees, because we want investments like Papastratos,” Mitsotakis said in reference to his comments on the tobacco firm.
“We need to provide incentives so that employees have a stake in operational profits and the state needs to give tax incentives so that profits are distributed to workers,” he added, accusing Tsipras of distorting his words for gain.