Date
29 May 2017
Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras leaves his office in Athens shortly before announcing his resignation. Officials are hinting at a Sept. 20 snap election. Photo: Reuters
Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras leaves his office in Athens shortly before announcing his resignation. Officials are hinting at a Sept. 20 snap election. Photo: Reuters

Greek PM quits, seeks snap election

Greece faces a snap election after Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras resigned on Thursday, hoping to reboot his leadership with a clean slate after the chaos over a controversial economic bailout from the eurozone.

Tsipras submitted his resignation to President Prokopis Pavlopoulos and asked for the earliest possible election date.

Reuters is quoting government officials as saying the aim is to hold the election on Sept. 20, with Tsipras seeking to crush a rebellion in his leftist Syriza party and seal public support for the bailout program, the third since 2010.

Faced with a near collapse of the Greek financial system which threatened the country’s future in the euro, Tsipras was forced to accept the creditors’ demands for yet more austerity and economic reform — policies he had promised to scrap when he was elected in January.

“I want to be honest with you. We did not achieve the agreement we expected before the January elections,” he told the Greek people.

“I feel the deep ethical and political responsibility to put to your judgment all I have done, successes and failures.”

His decision deepens political uncertainty on a day Greece began receiving funds under its 86 billion euro (US$96 billion) bailout program, five years after a previous government took the first bailout from the euro zone and IMF.

A snap election should allow Tsipras to capitalize on his popularity with voters before the toughest parts of the latest program, including further pension cuts, more value-added tax increases and a “solidarity” tax on incomes, begin to bite.

This may allow him to return to power in a stronger position without anti-bailout rebels in Syriza to slow him down.

Jeroen Dijsselbloem, who chairs meetings of eurozone finance ministers, said he hopes Tsipras’s resignation would not delay or derail implementation of the bailout package.

“It is crucial that Greece maintains its commitments to the euro zone,” he said in a statement to Reuters.

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