Talk of new bailout hardens Greek opposition

Alexis Tsipras

Alexis Tsipras, the leader of the Greek leftist Syriza party, said talk of a possible third bailout for Athens was a signal that the government had failed and that new elections were needed, EURACTIV Greece reports.

German finance minister Wolfgang Schäuble recently admitted that the debt-ridden country will need a new aid package in addition to the two previous ones, which totalled about €240 billion, triggering a storm of protest from opposition parties five weeks before a general election in Germany.

Greek public debt exceeded €321 billion (180% of its GDP) at the end of the first half of 2013, well above the amount recorded before the outburst of the crisis in 2009.

>> Greece’s third bailout rocks German election campaign

Günther Oettinger, Germany's EU commissioner, confirmed on Sunday (25 August) the need of another bailout for Greece, predicting even the amount.

"It will be a manageable sum. I personally expect the figure to be a little over €10 billion. The programme should cover the years 2014-2016," he told the Welt am Sonntag weekly.

Greek finance minister Yannis Stournaras, in an interview with the Greek newspaper Proto Thema, said that if needed, the total amount of the third aid package will be €10 billion. But he ruled out the possibility of additional conditions attached to the aid.

“If Greece needs further assistance, it will be €10 billion, an amount much smaller in comparison with the previous packages. It is not a new Memorandum but a financial support package, without new conditions. We have already set our goals until 2015, therefore no new measures can be demanded,” said the Greek finance minister.

The leftist opposition party Syriza jumped on the opportunity to call for new elections. Its leader, Alexis Tsipras, attacked the government over the success of the EU/IMF aid programme.

“The myth created by the government of Mr. Samaras about the success of the aid programme is absolutely collapsing,” said Tsipras who leads what has become the country's second biggest party after the last general election.

“Greece has been in the midst of an undeclared war for the last three and a half years. It is an economic war whose victims are people who lose their jobs; get into poverty from one day to another or even lose their lives because many of them cannot tolerate these degrading conditions," he added.

He continued saying that there is a need for a “wide political movement” to overthrow the government and return to democracy via elections.

Referring to the Greek Asset Development Fund, which aims to facilitate the privatisation process, he said that it is a “copy” of the fund established in Eastern Germany in 1989 for the absolute annihilation and extinction of a state.

“If this [privatisation] programme is implemented, Greece will be then the only European state without public assets […] it is a crime”, he said.  

Syriza, or Coalition of the Radical Left, became the second largest party in Greece and the main opposition force after elections in June 2012.

The centre-right New Democracy (ND) led by Prime Minister Antonis Samaras won 29.66% of the votes, followed by Syriza with 26.89%. PASOK came third with only 12.28%.

Syriza has shaken up the Greek political landscape, which has been traditionally dominated by ND and PASOK.

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