ATHENS – With the critical Jan. 25 elections looming, the campaign is heating up with the front-running major opposition Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) saying it won’t work with former Premier George Papandreou’s new party and the KKE Communists saying they wouldn’t join a coalition with the Leftists to form a government.
SYRIZA holds a narrow but closing lead over the ruling New Democracy Conservatives of Prime Minister Antonis Samaras who has been trying to convince Greeks he brings the best chance for stability and an approaching recovery but has been hurt by his support for harsh austerity measures demanded by international lenders.
With polls showing that SYRIZA or New Democracy couldn’t win enough of the vote outright to control Parliament, prospects for another coalition are high, or even for a second election if the first fails to find an agreement between the winners and another party to join forces as Samaras did with the PASOK Socialists who are serving in his administration.
Greek election favorites SYRIZA on Tuesday ruled out cooperation with George Papandreou’s newly launched Movement of Democratic Socialists after the January 25 ballot, as the Communist Party (KKE) went on to snub Alexis Tsipras’s own political overture.
“The man who invited the IMF and the troika into Greece has the political audacity to believe that we have forgotten his political responsibilities,” SYRIZA spokesman Panos Skourletis said Tuesday, adding that the party had “dumped [Papandreou’s] proposal in the trash.”
In an interview with Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera published earlier in the day, Papandreou said he would be willing to work with SYRIZA if the leftist party committed to a program of structural reforms.
Skourletis’s remarks prompted a reaction from Giorgos Petalotis, spokesman for Papandreou’s splinter party, which is polling below the 3 percent threshold. Petalotis, who denied that Papandreou had actually reached out to SYRIZA, sneered at Tsipras’s alleged rapprochement with the right-wing anti-bailout Independent Greeks party.
Meanwhile Tuesday, Communist Party secretary general Dimitris Koutsoumbas blew off the latest SYRIZA invite for cooperation if the party fails to win an outright majority on January 25.
Speaking during an interview with Star TV late on Monday, Tsipras had said “it would be unthinkable” for Communist MPs to turn their back on SYRIZA if the latter needed KKE’s consent or parliamentary support to carry out its program.
“What is unthinkable,” Koutsoumbas said, is for SYRIZA to be asking the Greek Communists to join hands in order “to save the EU, the euro, the big monopolies.”
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