ATHENS – Major opposition SYRIZA-Progressive Alliance leader and former premier Alexis Tsipras boldly said he will sweep back into power in spring elections with a first-round ballot majority victory deposing New Democracy.
He told Alpha TV in an interview that his leftists “will come first” and “will not need a second round,” despite his party, while in power, changing electoral laws to make a run-off more likely.
That change eliminated a 50-seat bonus in the 300-member Parliament for whomever comes first in an election, making it difficult to win outright or take power without needing another party to form a coalition.
A second round, under a measure passed by the ruling Conservatives of Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, would give the first-place finisher a 30-seat bonus and a better chance of forming a government.
The date for the elections hasn’t been set but media reports said it could be as soon as April 9, a week ahead of Easter, when many people head to their home villages and islands where they vote and would already be there.
Tsipras said that he believes “in a government of progressive collaboration that will be a government of winners,” and said that surveys showing he’s about 6 points behind – half of what it had been – were wrong.
He said the opinion polls “are no longer a safe forecasting tool, especially when opinion polls themselves tell us that a 20 percent of the population decides last minute,” on their choices.
He said that a key factor was whether young people – with whom he said SYRIZA is popular despite scores of thousands of them leaving the country to escape more austerity he brought after swearing he wouldn’t, will make the difference.
But he also said he wouldn’t exclude bringing the third-place PASOK-KINAL into a coalition as a junior partner although that party’s leader, Member of the European Parliament Nikos Androulakis, already rejected that idea.
But at the same time, Tsipras said he wouldn’t need a partner because he said he will win with such a margin that he can “form a strong progressive government of a long horizon.”
He blasted Mitsotakis for refusing to debate him and for not announcing the date of elections yet and said that SYRIZA would protect primary homes from foreclosures after allowing banks to chase debtors while he was in power.
“We will establish a regulatory framework – you can’t have servicers who have bought a loan at 15 percent of its value require 100 percent of it” back, he said, referring to banks selling bad loans to so-called vulture collectors, which was also allowed under his then SYRIZA Radical Left before he changed its name.
He also said that SYRIZA will deal with profiteering and said that, “Excessive profits for the public coffers, from indirect taxes, exceeds 4 billion euros ($4.29 billion.) Why does Mr. Mitsotakis keep these? Why can’t he give some bonuses (to the public), that end up at supermarkets and large companies instead,” he asked.
He defended himself from actions when he was in power from 2015-19 in imposing austerity after he said he wouldn’t, including letting banks chase debtors, saying he had no choice because he was dealing with European Union lenders who insisted.
That was a condition of his government getting a third bailout for Greece, this one for 86 billion euros ($92.17 billion) he said he would never seek but did after saying he wouldn’t implement more austerity but did.
“You cannot compare this period with that of the (loan) memoranda. An economy cannot grow with bonuses . We need a viable and stable development, and we want to grow the pie so that we have the option of a redistribution of income,” he said.