ATHENS – Two months after being run out of office, former Premier and Radical Left SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras is already talking about early elections to get back at the ruling New Democracy and Kyriakos Mitsotakis, who ousted him.
Despite being handily beaten after 4 ½ years of reneging on anti-austerity promises, Tsipras, in his first interview since the trouncing, told the Efimerida ton Syntakton newspaper that Mitsotakis “will soon find himself faced with the dead ends and inconsistencies of his policies and will consider early elections irrespective of what we ask for,” even before the Conservatives have a chance to enact their agenda.
Tsipras said the new government was “spending ready money,” without indicating what he was talking about and as he is trying to regroup the party and move it more toward the center after the beating he took.
Mitsotakis has already rolled back part of the corporate tax rate that Tsipras hiked to 29 percent and the Prime Minister has announced tax cuts and gone after foreign investors scared off by the Leftists, and accelerating major projects stymied under SYRIZA.
Tsipras claimed during his tenure that 10 rival politicians took bribes from the Swiss pharmaceutical company Novartis despite not a shred of evidence being produced by four alleged whistleblowers, three of who remain secret and said despite nine of them being cleared already that the scandal he said was the biggest in modern Greek history was real.
Tsipras said the case was “like a Hydra and will chase them for a long time to come,” suggesting that revelations would yet implicate rival politicians without offering any proof and having immunity from prosecution for what otherwise would be slander.
Mitsotakis said there won’t be any early elections and that he instead will move to revise a SYRIZA law that takes away a 50-seat bonus for winning parties in national elections that would take effect in the next polls.
Critics said that was done to give SYRIZA more power and leverage as the major opposition but Mitsotakis said that will be revised and restore a plurality/majoritarian system to give the winning party a bonus, saying the bar should be set at the victor gaining at least 40 percent of the vote.
While Mitsotakis is forging ahead fast on a number of fronts to get the slowly-recovering economy moving after a 9 ½-year-long crisis that brought crushing austerity measures, Tsipras was trying to stabilize his own position in SYRIZA.
At a recent meeting of the political secretariat he said debate about the need for his reelection through a vote by party members was “disorienting and of no concern” to him as he has the power and no real challengers despite bringing SYRIZA to defeat.
“I don’t feel that I need an election to acquire authority as a leader,” he said, adding that under him, SYRIZA had won “three elections, a referendum and, in the elections we lost, one in three voted for SYRIZA,” happy to get 33 percent of the vote and not mentioning he reneged on the 2015 referendum in which Greeks supported his bid to resist austerity before he imposed more.