Tsipras’ Gamble

The Risky Road to Stability

Tispras resigns AFP PHOTO ANGELOS TZORTZINIS
Alexis Tsipras' latest throw of the dice:
  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    Greece needs political stability so that its economy can recover from the uncertainty of the past few months.

  • Facts

    Facts

    • Greek Prime Minister, Alexis Tsipras, resigned on Thursday, which is likely to prompt snap elections on September 20.
    • The far-left of his Syriza party formed a separate parliamentary group on Friday, calling themselves Popular Unity.
    • Syriza is currently polling 33-34 percent and is likely to win the election but not get an absolute majority.
  • Audio

    Audio

  • Pdf

Just when Europe thought the Greek crisis was over, its youthful prime minister, Alexis Tsipras, has managed to reboot the drama, by resigning.

His call for new elections came on the same day Athens received its first tranche of the third bailout, finally giving the country some economic breathing room. The €13 billion, or $14.7 billion, transferred on Thursday let Greece repay €3.2 billion to the European Central Bank, avoiding default.

That money had barely arrived when Mr. Tsipras announced he was calling new elections to clean the political slate and hopefully stock his leftist coalition with more moderate members willing to approve privatizations and new austerity measures.

With snap elections most likely to be held on September 20, the country is now entering a month of political turmoil and uncertainty.

With his party formally splitting on Friday morning, the battle lines in the coming election will be between those who accept and those who reject the bailout.

The 41-year-old Mr. Tsipras, whose laft-wing Syriza party came to power in January on a pledge to end austerity, has since been forced to accept a harsh program of reforms in return for a €86 billion bailout over the next three years.

Mr. Tsipras only managed to get parliamentary approval for the bailout by relying on the opposition. Of his 149 Syriza lawmakers, 43 did not back him.

The expectation initially was that Mr. Tsipras would call a confidence vote in parliament and then step down. Instead, he surprised many by handing his resignation to President Prokopis Pavlopoulos the minute the bailout was secured.

Announcing his decision on Greek television on Thursday night, Mr. Tsipras said that he felt he no longer had a mandate.

“The political mandate of the January 25 elections has exhausted its limits and now the Greek people have to have their say,” he said.

“I want to be honest with you. We did not achieve the agreement we expected before the January elections.”

Mr. Tsipras’ move means that he can avoid months, if not years, of battling party hardliners and having to rely on the opposition, including the center-right New Democracy, center-left PASOK and new centrist pro-European party To Potami, to implement the bailout terms.

His popularity is high and Syriza is polling at 33-34 percent, though that could change once new polling accounts for the split of his party Friday morning.

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