Alexis Tsipras asks Greeks for outright majority

  • 31/08/2015
Alexis Tsipras (Reuters)
Alexis Tsipras (Reuters)

Greece's ex-Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has called for voters in upcoming snap elections to give his radical left Syriza party a "strong mandate" to lead the crisis-hit nation.

Tsipras, who rode to power in January on a wave of popular anger over austerity, is seeking re-election in September 20 polls to implement more painful reforms demanded under a new 86-billion-euro (NZ$149-billion) international rescue package.

"We are seeking a strong mandate, an absolute majority for the Syriza government" for the next four years, he said in an interview with Realnews on Sunday.

Tsipras said it was time to exit the two-party paradigm that has seen Greece alternate between the conservative opposition New Democracy party and the Pasok socialist party for the past four decades.

"It's crucial to not take a step back but to move forward," he added.

But Greek pollsters give Syriza a lead of only between one and three-and-a-half points over its chief adversary New Democracy, making an absolute majority unlikely.

If the polls are borne out, Tsipras would have to form a coalition government.

Only one poll, carried out by the Bridging Europe think tank, gives the party a clear advantage of eight points.

Tsipras has ruled out forming a national unity government should he fail to win a outright majority, saying he could not work with New Democracy, Pasok or the centre-right Potami.

He stepped down on August 20 and called for a fresh vote - the fifth in the country in six years - after suffering a major rebellion in his hard-left party over Greece's huge new international bailout.