European elections: Greek socialists face RUIN after ruling party suffers crushing defeat

GREEK Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras called a snap general election after his socialist Syriza party were decimated by the conservative opposition in European Parliament elections on Sunday.

With a severe drubbing at the ballot box for the leftist Syriza party, Mr Tsipras decided not to push through to a full term which expires in October. He said: “I will request immediate declaration of national elections from the President of the Republic.” New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis demanded Tsipras resign, saying he had lost the popular mandate.

Mr Mitsotakis said: “The Prime Minister must assume his responsibilities. For the good of the country he must resign and the country should hold national elections, the soonest possible.”

Results for the European Parliament vote showed Syriza trailing the opposition New Democracy party by about nine points.

Syriza stormed the Greek political scene on an anti-austerity platform six years ago, then suffered a backlash after having to impose cut-backs as part of a third bailout in 2015.

More damagingly, there was a deeply unpopular agreement that resolved a long-running name dispute with North Macedonia.

Once a leftist firebrand, Mr Tsipras, 44, mellowed after sweeping to power and telling the country’s creditors to back off in 2015.

But he was forced into a painful new bailout months later, when faced with a choice of that or being turfed out of the eurozone and into the financial wilderness.

That capitulation went down badly with many voters.

Greece emerged from close financial supervision by its lenders in August 2018.

The government this month introduced tax cuts and pension payouts, going some way toward unwinding some of the austerity measures.

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The handouts may have averted a steeper defeat in the European election, political analyst Thanos Veremis said.

Mr Tsipras’ decision to broker a deal ending a name dispute with North Macedonia earned kudos from his European partners, but proved deeply unpopular with many Greeks.

His coalition partner, Panos Kammenos, pulled out of the government in January, triggering a confidence vote in parliament that Mr Tsipras nonetheless won comfortably.

For most, use of the Macedonia name is an appropriation of Greek heritage by the country’s small neighbour. Regardless, Mr Tsipras signed the name-change deal in June, on the banks of the Prespes Lake bordering Albania, Greece and North Macedonia.

Mr Kammenos, his former coalition partner, tweeted on Sunday evening: “Syriza committed suicide in Prespes.”