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May 26, 2014 7:53 pm
Syriza leader seeks Greek elections after European poll triumph
Alexis Tsipras’s request, seen as a symbolic gesture, was made at a meeting with Karolos Papoulias, the 88-year-old head of state, who offered formal congratulations on Syriza’s electoral win The Syriza leader said the prime minister should now consult him on key decisions such as the appointment of a new central bank governor, expected to be made this month.
Mr Tsipras cited “a huge disharmony between the will of the people and the current disposition of political forces.”
The president’s office declined to comment on Mr Tsipras’ requests.
Final results in the European poll released on Monday gave Syriza 26.6 per cent, while the centre-right New Democracy party of premier Antonis Samaras trailed behind at 22.8 per cent. The outcome reversed the result of the June 2012 general election, where Mr Tsipras’s party first emerged as a potential contender for power.
Syriza, which pledges to rip up Greece’s bailout deal with international lenders if it comes to power, will take six seats in the European Parliament, one more than New Democracy.
Greece’s other anti-establishment party, the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn, took third place with 9.4 per cent of the vote, roughly one point ahead of Elia (the Olive Tree), a centre-left alliance led by the PanHellenic Socialist Movement (Pasok), the junior partner in the governing coalition.
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Analysts said Mr Tsipras’s call for early elections signalled Syriza’s determination to step up pressure on the coalition, which has a majority in parliament of just two seats.
But a government official who asked to remain anonymous shrugged off Syriza’s demands. He stressed that the coalition had retained its legitimacy because New Democracy and Pasok together won more than 30 per cent of the vote, “marking a significant difference between the governing parties and the leftwing opposition.”
Other observers noted how, despite its victory in the polls, Syriza, did not manage to boost its share of the vote compared to the 2012 election.
“Syriza didn’t attract as many extra votes from Pasok as had been expected, raising questions over when, or even whether, it can break through the ceiling that far-left parties have tended to hit at around 25 per cent, “ said Costas Iordanides, a veteran political commentator.
Syriza will nonetheless have its first taste of power as Rena Dourou, the shadow foreign minister, scraped victory in a run-off vote for regional governor of Attica, the district surrounding Athens, in local elections held at the same time as the European polls.
Ms Dourou first came to prominence when Ilias Kasidiaris, now a Golden Dawn lawmaker and the party spokesman, threw a glass of water at her during a heated election debate on breakfast television, an incident that went viral on YouTube.
As regional governor Ms Dourou will have extensive powers, including overseeing the disbursement of €8bn-10bn in EU structural funds.
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