Alexis Tsipras to Step Down As Greek PM, Call Snap Elections

Alexis Tsipras
The Associated Press

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras of the socialist Syriza party will reportedly step down and call for snap elections on September 20, rocking his already crisis-riddled nation with fresh wave of political turmoil. A formal announcement of his resignation is expected Thursday afternoon, along with a televised address to the Greek people.

“Once he submits his resignation the prime minister would be replaced by the president of Greece’s supreme court, Vassiliki Thanou-Christophilou – a vocal bailout opponent – who would oversee the elections as the head of a transitional government,” writes the UK Guardian.

“Under Greece’s complex constitutional laws, President Prokopis Pavlopoulos cannot immediately call an election if Tsipras resigns, but must first consult the other major parties to see if they could form a government – a near impossibility given the current parliamentary arithmetic,” the article goes on to explain.

Tsipras, facing a revolt in his own party, was forced to rely on opposition party votes to win approval of the Eurozone’s bailout program last week.  Rumor had it he was either facing parliamentary censure, or would try to head that off by calling for a confidence vote, which he would probably have lost.

The Guardian sees his resignation as a bid to “go straight to the country in an attempt to silence rebels and shore up public support for the draconian three-year bailout programme, which entails a radical overhaul of the Greek economy including further tax hikes, spending cuts and major reforms of health, welfare, pensions and taxation.”

This would suggest Tsipras, who is said to remain personally popular with Greek voters, thinks he will win big in those snap elections, even if they are held before the Europeans deliver more debt relief. He is essentially abandoning his party, and governing coalition, to run against them and destroy them. This probably will not sit very well with already-enraged Syriza leaders. The party will probably come apart at the seams, as Greek politics realign more clearly into pro-bailout and anti-bailout factions.  (And if the latter do well, the EU will become very nervous about moving forward with its bailout plan.)