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Tsipras Tells Greeks Election Choice Simple: Democracy or Mitsotakis?

ATHENS – Taking off the gloves and going into full battle mode to really kick off the rematch campaign against New Democracy ahead of spring elections, SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras told supporters at a rally that Greeks must oust Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis to save democracy.

In a speech to those already convinced, he also laid out a raft of promises if he wins, without mentioning he reneged on his pledges while in power for 4 ½ years before being routed in July, 2019 snap elections.

He laid out the premise that for Greece the choice is “Democracy or Mitsotakis,” blaming the government for its reign that he characterized as spying on citizens with phone bugging and creating a surveillance state.

It was a full-frontal attack in which he said he would ask Greeks to censure Mitsotakis after the government’s lawmakers in Parliament beat back a no-confidence motion that Tsipras had brought.

He called for immediate elections – immediately rejected by Mitsotakis earlier – and said that at the elections whose date hasn’t been set that New Democracy lawmakers “will answer at the ballot box, just as our Constitution demands.”

“The answer, believe me, will be overwhelming in the end: the answer will be democracy,” he said, asserting that SYRIZA will achieve “a clean-cut victory” in the national elections.

Tsipras, whose party was 5.6 percent behind in recent polls, hammered away at the phone bugging conducted by the National Intelligence Service (EYP) that answers to Mitsotakis.

He called on the rising center-left PASOK-KINAL Movement for Change to join forces with him to unite opposition to New Democracy,  earlier dismissed by the rival leftist leader Nikos Androulakis, one 15,745 people phones were bugged.

“Democracy was abused in the most cruel way and wiretappings mired public life,” threatening national security by wiretapping national defense leaders. “We are not facing a bad government, but a dangerous regime,” he asserted, calling surveillance New Democracy “method of rule,” said the state-run Athens-Macedonia News Agency AMNA.

He reached out again to PASOK, saying that, “It  is a pity they do not want to understand that any differences progressive forces have – whether serious or less serious – are resolved only within a democratic space alone.”

Alexis Tsipras, President of SYRIZA – Progressive Alliance, speaks at the Municipal Gymnasium of Peristeri “Andreas Papandreou”, Wednesday 1 February 2023. (Photo by Eurokinissi/Mihalis Karagiannis)

He said that SYRIZA walked out of Parliament to abstain from voting – New Democracy can pass any bill it wants, holding a majority – because he “will not legalize an ethically and politically discredited government.”

He said the only exception would be to come back to block any far-right candidates from running for Parliament although SYRIZA earlier objected to a measure that would do just that.

He mocked Mitsotakis for touting the country’s economic status upgrade by ratings agencies, saying that it happened more during SYRIZA’s ironically anti-business tenure that saw major projects blocked, including the 8-billion euro ($8.8 billion) development of the abandoned Hellenikon International Airport on Athens’ coast.

Tsipras laid out a vision for what he hoped would be another chance at power although a change in the electoral law passed during his last days in rule created a political quagmire, taking away a 50-seat bonus for the winner in Parliament.

Barring an outright win or the first-place finisher forming a coalition, that will likely lead to a second election that has a 30-seat bonus under legislation passed by New Democracy in response.

He then promised a long line of benefits if he wins, including:

  • Raising the minimum wage to 880 euros ($967.60) monthly after holding it down while in power in imposing austerity
  • A 10 percent raise in public sector salaries
  • A tax exemption of 10,000 euros ($10,995) for all workers including freelancers and farmers
  • Hiring 5500 permanent health staff and 20,000 primary and secondary school teachers
  • Free graduate school programs
  • Overhauling EYP and the Greek Police ELAS that is facing allegations of corruptions and ties with mobsters

He didn’t say where the money would come from to fulfill those promises although under New Democracy the economy grew 5.6 percent in 2022 and is slated to grow again in 2023, although by less.

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