Tsipras faces electoral defeat in Greece
Greece’s Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, who is facing defeat in today’s early general election, has been fighting back.
“They think they’ve got rid of Syriza, they think they’ve got rid of the left,” he told his final rally. “Well, the battle is only beginning. We can do it! We can pull off the greatest reversal in history.”
Tsipras’ Syriza party, or the Coalition of the Radical Left, was punished in the European parliamentary elections in May, emerging 9.5 points behind the centre-right opposition in its first electoral test since 2015.
Tsipras is seeking an absolute majority in the 300-member parliament, after nearly a decade of fragile coalitions of antagonistic parties who differed over the approach to Greece’s bailout deals.
Syriza came to power on a populist anti-austerity wave during the financial crisis but polls suggest its rival, New Democracy, is between eight and 13 percentage points ahead.
The polling is complicated by the fact that the election is being held for the first time during the summer when many Greeks are either on holiday or hold temporary tourism jobs far from home, raising fears of a low turnout.
Kyriakos Mitsotakis (pictured), a former banker who leads New Democracy, is poised to lead the next government. The son of a previous prime minister, he was educated at Harvard and his sister Dora was foreign minister, his nephew, Kostas, is mayor-elect of the capital, Athens.
Tsipras called the 51-year-old Mitsotakis and his team “princes”, saying they belonged to the old guard that brought the debt-burdened state to the brink of bankruptcy.
Mitsotakis would scrap the labour and pension rights Syriza had reinstated, impose harsh measures, privatise public utilities and close public health and education systems, the embattled prime minister warned.
“They will treat you not as citizens but clients. They are trying to be something they aren’t, so that people will open the door,” Tsipras told his supporters. “Will you entrust your dreams to people who stole from you? Don’t let them take your dreams.”
The European populist movement was arguably born in Greece in 2015 when 61 per cent of voters backed Tsipras.
Turkish war games
Further complicating the election, Turkey has reserved an area in Greece’s continental shelf south of Kastellorizo and west towards Rhodes for a live ammunition exercise, Kathimerini reported.
Turkey has issued a navigational telex reserving a large area of the Aegean for its use today (Sunday) as Greeks vote, the Greek newspaper reported.
The Greek military reportedly said Turkey had escalated airspace violations this week with Greek and Turkish jets engaging in mock dogfights 11 times in two days last week.
Kyriakos Mitsotakis. Picture credit: Wikimedia