September 15, 2015
There was no space for compromise during yesterday’s debate. From the first moment Syriza leader Tsipras ruled out any possible grand coalition between Syriza and New Democracy. On his side ND leader Meimarakis was very offensive against Tsipras in an effort to record a win a for his party after a disastreous performance last January.
Alexis Tsipras tried to behave as calmly as possible when addressing fears and concerns of the Greek citizens that the day after elections Greece will have a stable government. Nonetheless, he many times focused on the fact that citizens are called to choose between a new, progressive government and an old, conservative establishment led by New Democracy. Tsipras did not rule out a coalition with PASOK and To Potami, but preferred to leave this decision on the leadership of these two parties, suggesting that they need to abide by Syriza’s program, not the opposite.
Tsipras repeated that every step of the bailout deal will be implemented, leaving hopeful signs for re-negotiation on the non-performing loans, privatisations and debt relief. Especially on the last topic, i.e. the sovereign debt, he insisted that it is impossible for New Democracy to reach a positive solution on that from the moment that the party is consistently stating that the Greek debt is sustainable. In addition to that, Tsipras referred to the corruption scandals of his opponent’s party, questioning ND capacity to govern Greece after 40 years of failed conservative politics. Targeting undecided voters, Syriza leader was trying to convince them to give him a second chance to govern without the burdens of the tumultuous negotiations that were impeding his party’s reformist agenda between January and July. He finally acknowledged that he did make mistakes, and that he was the only political leader to admit them.
On the other side, Meimarakis focused on the destruction of Syriza as a party of different and conflicting views, with no cohesion, dangerous for the stability in the country and lacking essential foundations to preserve the rights and interests of the Greek people. Meimarakis presented himself more as the “counter-Tsipras” rather than as a leading political figure that can give solutions to problems Greece is facing. He was populist on his remarks against Tsipras and Syriza, while repeatedly escaping the question on increased VAT for farmers -i.e. a once preferred political clientele for New Democracy. Similarly to Tsipras, he was clear on the proper implementation of the MoU without decline from the agreed terms.
To address Tsipras’ reference on “progressive government” he stepped back supporting his party deeds, focusing more on his proper audience rather than risking an opening to uncharted waters. Concluding his speech, Meimarakis criticized ERT (i.e. the national broadcasting network that hosted the debate) for not being treated as equal to Tsipras, pointing out that the coverage of the debate was favorable for former PM.
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