Greece’s Tsipras rules out forming national unity govt

Athens :Outgoing Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras ruled out forming a national unity government should he fail to win a outright majority in snap elections triggered after he resigned last week.

Tsipras, who called for a fresh vote after suffering a major rebellion in his hard-left Syriza party over Greece’s huge new international bailout, dismissed suggestions he could work with the conservative opposition New Democracy, the Pasok socialists or the centre-right Potami if the poll results were inconclusive.

“I will not become a prime minister who cooperates with New Democracy, Pasok or Potami,” Tsipras said in an interview with the Alpha TV channel, his first since resigning last Thursday.

“If we do not have a majority, I will not cooperate with (the parties that ran) previous governments.”

The date for Greece’s general election—the fifth the country has held in six years—is to be officially announced by President Prokopis Pavlopoulos by the end of the week, but it is likely to be scheduled for September 20.

Tsipras remains popular, although in the absence of recent opinion polls it is difficult to know whether he could win an absolute majority in the forthcoming poll.

“We are not going to cooperate with the old system,” Tsipras said.

“We are not going to bring back what the people decided to throw out,” he said in reference to the elections that brought him to power in January.

At the time of his election, the charismatic young premier was widely regarded as a break with past leaders they perceived as corrupt and beholden to powerful interests.

Syriza stormed to victory on a wave of popular anger over tough austerity measures demanded by Greece’s creditors in exchange for two previous bailouts.

But the party has been bitterly divided over Tsipras’ decision to accept more tough reforms in exchange for a new 86 billion euro (USD 96 billion) rescue, with hard-left rebels accusing him of capitulating to “blackmail” by the creditors.

The scale of the rebellion meant Tsipras was forced to rely on opposition help to get three bills on the bailout passed, meaning he had effectively lost his parliamentary majority.

On Friday, 25 Syriza rebels announced the formation of a new political grouping, Popular Unity, led by Panagiotis Lafazanis, a former senior Communist who has argued that Greece can happily exist without the euro.

Tsipras said he was “sad that this civil war” has erupted within his party.

He insisted again that accepting the latest bailout was a difficult but necessary decision, adding that it was needed to avoid a “civil conflict” in Greece.

“An exit from the eurozone would have been an economic disaster,” he added.