Friday, August 21, 2015

Greek prime minister Alexis Tsipras resigns, calls for early elections

Friday 21 August 2015

Greek prime minister Alexis Tsipras has submitted his resignation and called for early elections, saying it is up to the Greek people to decide his future.

Alexis Tsipras speaks in front of parliament Photo: Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has announced his resignation and called for early elections. (Reuters: Alkis Konstantinidis)

Related Story: Eurozone ministers approve 23 billion euros for Greek bailout

Map: Greece

Key points
  • Alexis Tsipras resigns, calls early election
  • Greece in the hands of caretaker government
  • Election tipped for September 20

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

"I will shortly meet with the president of the republic and present my resignation and that of my government," Mr Tsipras said in a televised address to the nation on Thursday.

"I want to submit to the Greek people everything I have done (since taking office in January) so that they can decide once more."

The election is expected to be held on September 20, the Greek news agency ANA said, citing government sources.

Now the Greek people have to have their say.
Greek prime minister, Alexis Tsipras

The move leaves Greece in the hands of a caretaker government until the vote.

Mr Tsipras, who has been the Prime Minister since January, has faced a recent rebellion in his governing Syriza party over austerity measures demanded in a massive new international bailout worth about 86 billion euros ($129 billion) over three years.

Nearly a third of Syriza party MPs refused to back the program in parliament last week, robbing him of a guaranteed political majority.

Mr Tsipras took the decision to call snap polls after meeting with members of his cabinet and as speculation swirled that he was to step down in a bid to regain office with a stronger hand.

Tsipras says up to Greeks to decide on his performance

Mr Tsipras successfully persuaded Greeks to reject tough reforms in a referendum last month, only to adopt them at a Eurozone summit a week later.

The hard-left leader said it was up to Greeks to judge whether he adequately represented them in a battle with foreign lenders on austerity demands.

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

Tough bailout terms explained

The key points of the agreement between Greece and its Eurozone partners that includes punishing austerity measures.

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

The government on Thursday cleared 3.4 billion euros ($5.1 billion) owed to the European Central Bank, the ECB confirmed.

The payment marked an urgently needed truce in a row that saw Greek banks shuttered, the economy battered and nearly saw Greece thrown out of the Eurozone.

But the bailout included more pain in the form of tax hikes, as well as a pensions overhaul and privatisations the government had previously opposed. Many Greeks viewed it as a humiliating climb-down.

The European Commission, one of the creditor institutions overseeing the new rescue package, earlier welcomed reports of a snap election saying it would politically bolster the just launched bailout, Greece's third in five years.

"Swift elections in Greece can be a way to broaden support for ESM stability support program just signed by prime minister Tsipras on behalf of Greece," tweeted Martin Selmayr, chief of staff to commission head Jean-Claude Juncker, referring to the EU bailout fund.

The election would be the second in eight months in Greece.

Greece's complex constitution has special stipulations for holding elections less than 12 months after the previous vote.

This means the president must first consult other major parties to see if they can form a government — a highly unlikely option.

Greek stocks fell on Thursday in the face of the political uncertainty, down 3.5 per cent.


From other news sites:

Greek prime minister Alexis Tsipras resigns, calls for early elections - ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)