Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras announced Thursday that he will step down and call snap elections for September 20, after facing strong resistance from within his own SYRIZA party.
“I will ask the Greek people if they think we have made achievements,” said the prime minister. “You will decide how we will recuperate the Greek economy, with your vote you will decide the future of Greece.”
Tsipras defended the latest bailout deal, saying the agreement is not the same as the “colonial” austerity deals negotiated by Greek governments in the past, as debt restructuring is now on the negotiating table. “We have not been able to achieve all that we wanted,” Tsipras said.
But dissident SYRIZA legislators rejected the bailout deal Tsipras negotiated with international creditors, refusing to vote in favour of more austerity for Greece. The party came to power earlier this year on promises to put a stop to austerity politics.
SYRIZA parliamentarians who voted against bailout terms in the largest Syriza rebellion to date have criticised Tsipras for breaking his pre-election promises. Nearly a third of SYRIZA legislators voted against the measures or abstained in the vote. Tsipras was able to pass the measure with support from pro-bailout legislators from other parties.
“We have achieved a lot,” said Tsipras. “We are against corruption, against clientelism in politics. But to win this battle, we need a stable government.”
Greece is set to receive €23 billion (US$25 billion) as part of the new €86 billion bailout program, after the German Parliament approved the financial package on August 19.
Tsipras has consistently pushed for debt relief for Greece, but creditors have resisted. Debt write-off will only be up for discussion with creditors after the pending deal is approved and Greece implements requested reforms.
SYRIZA's Left Platform, which strongly opposed the bail-out deal has announced, in response to plans for new elections, that it would form a board to run in the upcoming elections.
“The Left Platform will contribute immediately to the creation of a broad, anti-memorandum, progressive, democratic front that will stand in the elections to fight for the cancellation of all Memoranda and for the writing-off of the major part of the debt,” SYRIZA central committee member Stathis Kouvelakis said in a statement on August 20.
The Left Platform, headed by former energy minister Panagiotis Lafazanis, said Tsipras' announcement of snap elections and acceptance of the European bailout was “completely and radically opposed to the hitherto commitments and struggles of SYRIZA”.
[Compiled from TeleSUR English.]