Greek political leaders row over snap election

GMT 17:41 2015 Sunday ,23 August

Arab Today, arab today Greek political leaders row over snap election

The head of state, President Prokopis Pavlopoulos (L)
Athens - AFP

An unprecedented war of words has broken out between Greece's outgoing government, the parliament chief and the president over early elections likely to be held on September 20.

The government of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has accused parliamentary speaker Zoe Constantopoulou of "behaving like a dictator" after she branded the early election procedure "undemocratic and unconstitutional."

Tsipras resigned on Thursday, going on the offensive to defend the tough terms he accepted in the 86-billion-euro ($96 billion) rescue package which had triggered a rebellion in his radical-left Syriza party.

The mutiny scuppered his parliamentary majority and last week 25 of the rebels broke away to form a rival anti-bailout group called Popular Unity.

The head of state, President Prokopis Pavlopoulos, is expected to name a caretaker government on August 28, and announce an election date.

Under the constitution, Pavlopoulos was obliged to invite the largest opposition parties to try and form a government before formally setting a date for elections.
The conservative New Democracy party was on Friday given a three-day exploratory mandate, but Tsipras on Sunday turned down a meeting with their leader Vangelis Meimarakis.

The procedure has no chance of success, as neither New Democracy nor Popular Unity can muster enough lawmakers for a parliamentary majority in the 300-seat chamber.

"There is no possibility of forming a government under the present parliament," the government said in a note.

The breakaway Syriza rebels will be next in line on Monday.

But Constantopoulou, Greece's youngest parliament speaker at 38, has accused the 65-year-old president of breaking the rules by skipping a parliamentary technicality in order to hasten the procedure.

Late on Saturday, the president -- an esteemed professor of constitutional law -- responded by dismissing her arguments as "legally baseless".

Constantopoulou, whose father was a former head of Syriza's precursor party Synaspismos -- and was a Greek presidential candidate a decade ago -- vehemently opposed the third EU bailout Tsipras signed on July 13 and repeatedly sought to frustrate its ratification through stalling tactics.
As a result, three successive parliamentary votes on the bailout were held overnight, and were concluded narrowly before deadlines set by Greece's creditors expired.

A former rising star of Syriza, Constantopoulou is now rumoured to be considering joining the anti-bailout Popular Unity group, which takes its name from the leftist alliance that brought Salvador Allende to power in Chile in 1970.

Another prominent Syriza lawmaker, flamboyant ex-finance minister Yanis Varoufakis, on Sunday said he would not be a candidate with Tsipras' party in the upcoming election.

"I will not be a candidate in the name of Syriza," Varoufakis, who has strongly criticised the bailout, told France's Journal Du Dimanche.

"Syriza is adopting an irrational doctrine that I have opposed for five years: to further extend the crisis and pretend it is solved, while maintaining a debt that cannot be paid," he said.


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