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03/12/2016

Syriza warming up to PASOK

Elections

Syriza warming up to PASOK

Alexis Tsipras

Syriza chief Alexis Tsipas left the door open on Thursday (3 September) for cooperation with the PASOK, in the event that the party purges members who belong to the ‘old establishment’. EurActiv Greece reports.

Leftist Syriza and right-wing New Democracy are neck-and-neck in the polls, ahead of a snap election in Greece on 20 September.

Conducted after the bailout agreed on by the Syriza government and Greece’s international creditors this summer, opinion polls show the New Democracy party catching up quickly, while the popularity of Alexis Tsipras is constantly dropping.

>>Read: New Democracy overtakes Syriza ahead of 20 September election

Syriza and New Democracy get almost 25% of the vote, while the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn seems to ensure the third position with 6%, followed by the Pan-Hellenic Socialist Movement and centrist Potami (5%).

Right-wing party Independent Greeks, the junior coalition partner in the Syriza-led government, probably won’t enter the next parliament, as polls indicate that it cannot reach the 3% threshold required to enter the legislature.

The cooperation with Pasok

In an interview with Kontra channel, the former Greek premier asked for a clear majority mandate in order for his party to be able to engage in post-election cooperation with “honest” political forces, like Independent Greeks.

Asked if cooperation with the Pan-Hellenic Socialist Movement was still on the table, he said that it was possible, but “under specific conditions”.

The Pan-Hellenic Socialist Party is the S&D affiliate in Greece, and has taken a tough stance against Syriza. It was a PASOK government that signed the first bailout agreement with the European Union and International Monetary Fund in February 2010.

>>Read: Ahead of election, Syriza poses as guarantor of bailout deal

Tsipras blamed PASOK’s leader, Fofi Gennimata, for having taken an inconsistent position compared to her EU partners in S&D, and aligning PASOK with conservative parties like New Democracy.

“If this does not change, there is no prospect for cooperation. I would be very delighted to see this change […] but in order for this to happen, PASOK needs to isolate the burden of the past,” he said, referring to its former leader, Evangelos Venizelos.

Analysts in Athens claim that the recent breakup of Syriza gives Tsipras a chance to move closer to the center of the Greek political spectrum and attract voters from the center-left pool.

S&D wishful thinking

In this election, Pasok announced that it will cooperate with the Democratic Left, which participated in the coalition government of ND and PASOK, but exited quickly, to protest the unilateral closure of the state broadcasting corporation.

The creation of a pro-EU center-left government in Athens has always been on the Socialists & Democrats’ agenda.

As EurActiv reported in April 2013, S&D leader Hannes Swoboda had told EurActiv Greece, ”I think that the future left [in Greece]has to be drawn from PASOK, the Democratic Left and Syriza.”

Swoboda added that this is what would attract “a lot of people who are deprived of many of their social rights now”.

>>Read: European Socialist leader urges Greek left parties to cooperate

Similarly, in an interview with EurActiv, S&D leader Gianni Pittella had urged Greece’s leftist parties to cooperate after the January 2015 elections.

>>Read: Pittella: Any Grexit scenario is ‘unacceptable’

“We hope that the outcome of the election will result in the constitution of a progressive government led by all left-wing parties who share our common European values,” Pittella noted.

Centrist Potami’s role

The centrist Potami party will play a ‘regulator role’ the day after the elections, according to its leader, Stavros Theodorakis.

Potami belongs to S&D, but it’s not an official member. Theodorakis has also held many meetings with ALDE’s Guy Verhofstadt, and the latter has been quite supportive of Potami.

Analysts say that taking into account the current political balance, Potami could become the first liberal pole in Greek politics aligning with ALDE.