Greece’s Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras announced on Friday that the European Parliament election this Sunday was also a vote of confidence in his policies, while a minister close to Tsipras said an early national election was possible depending on the result.
The Greek PM’s term ends in October and his left wing SYRIZA party trails the conservative New Democracy party in opinion polls.
Speaking to ERT TV, the leftist leader said he saw Sunday’s EU election as a vote of confidence on his plan to unravel austerity policies in 2019 and in 2020.
A national election is officially due in October and when asked if he was considering a snap election in June Tsipras responded, “On Sunday, people may not be voting for a government but they will be voting on the policies that will govern the country in the coming years.”
Greeks will be voting for European Parliament deputies, regional directors, and local government officials on Sunday, with a second round scheduled on June 2 where necessary.
“When this government assumed the effort of cleaning up the mess others left behind, a mess of decades, we didn't know for sure that we would reach a clearing," Tsipras said at Syntagma Square on Friday, delivering his party's key speech ahead of Sunday's elections.
"It wasn't certain that the loan memoranda would end and the bankrupt economy would revive," he noted, but the government succeeded.
"Now we can be the ones to manage our own future and govern based on our own priorities instead of the directives of creditors," Tsipras said.
"We went through a modern Odyssey to get here, but despite our adventure we arrived home, whatever the obstacles placed in our path," Tsipras said, referring to the country's completion of its fiscal adjustment programme in August 2018.
New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis on Friday said he has been to "every corner in Greece, met thousands of Greeks, saw the disappointment in their eyes about the years lost in the crisis," speaking at the party's main rally in Thessaloniki.
"Our struggle concerns the youth, first and foremost," he said, while praising Greece's long history, "which reminds us how our nation achieves great things when united."
On Greece's Prespes Agreement, Mitsotakis reiterated that he intends to retain the right to veto its EU accession course, a warning he repeated in terms of Albania's protection of the Greek minority's rights. He also said he would seek the international recognition of the genocide of Pontic Greeks.
Protecting the national interests, especially in relation to borders, was another key point raised by Mitsotakis, who said that New Democracy has always defended those interests "at every critical moment in Greece's history since 1974, with realism and truth."
The ND leader reiterated his intent to abolish university asylum, which forbids unauthorised entrance to army and police, and said students should be able to study without fear from self-styled antiestablishment hood-wearers on the campus.
Urban security, another high priority, is something that Mitsotakis prioritised, saying that the state "must protect citizens from criminals and petrol bomb violence," referring to clashes between anarchists and the police and the destruction of storefronts during them.
On May 26 "we vote and on May 27 we turn a page," Mitsotakis told the crowd, "a new page that we must write together," he concluded.