Greece’s Alexis Tsipras rejects mandate to form coalition
Syriza leader is preparing for a second election in June after a ‘painful’ defeat in Sunday’s poll.
Greece’s opposition leader Alexis Tsipras has turned down a mandate to form a coalition government, saying he is preparing for a second election in June after a “painful” electoral defeat for his left-wing Syriza party.
The conservative New Democracy party stormed to victory with 40.8 percent of the vote in Sunday’s poll which sent Syriza into a tailspin, polling 20.1 percent, the result of many voters’ disenchantment with its radical, anti-establishment style.
Under the constitution, the first three parties are awarded by the country’s president up to three days each to try and form a government before parliament is dissolved and a new election is called.
On Tuesday, Tsipras told President Katerina Sakellaropoulou that it was impossible to form a coalition government.
“I have no reason to hide that the electoral result is a painful shock, it was unexpected,” Tsipras told reporters outside the presidential mansion, apologising to Syriza supporters.
“I take full responsibility for this result, but in my dictionary, that means standing and fighting.”
June 25 vote
Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, leader of New Democracy, declined to seek a coalition on Monday, paving the way for a second vote on June 25 that he hopes his conservative party will win outright.
Without New Democracy, opposition parties do not have enough seats to form a ruling alliance, and all party leaders have indicated they will not hold exploratory talks.
Syriza refers to the second vote as a “final battle” which has yet to come.
In a televised statement on Monday, Tsipras said Syriza’s primary responsibility was to “prevent the prospects of an almighty and uncontrollable ruler-prime minister” and ensure the presence of the left in Greece’s political landscape.
Syriza’s defeat revealed a split left. Two small left-wing parties, set up by former Syriza members, did not make it to parliament.
During the pre-election period, Syriza tried to persuade the socialist PASOK party, which finished third in Sunday’s election, and left-wing parties, including the communist KKE, to back it in a coalition government.
But after its defeat, Syriza accused them of turning their back on its efforts to form a broader alliance against the conservatives.
PASOK will also get a mandate to form a coalition government before the president appoints a caretaker government that will lead Greece to a second vote.
That election will take place under a system of semi-proportional representation, with a sliding scale seat bonus, increasing the chances of an outright win for Mitsotakis’s party. All parties are eligible to run again.