Tsipras: The government has lost people's trust

Alexis Tsipras

The government has lost the trust of the citizens, main opposition SYRIZA-Progressive Alliance President Alexis Tsipras said on Sunday during a press conference held at the 85th Thessaloniki International Fair.

He particularly emphasised issues concerning young people and urged all Greeks to get vaccinated.

Responding to reporters' questions, he said the government were striving to boost their appeal to young people in response to opinion polls.

Tsipras stressed that young people did not want handouts and pocket money but better prospects, a good standard of living and jobs.

He said an overall vision and prospects were needed to counteract the brain drain and create incentives for young people to stay in the country.

Tsipras also noted that someone should be held responsible for Greece's poor performance in terms of the pandemic and the slowdown in vaccinations, pointing out that the country was a "champion" for the number of cases in Europe.

The opposition leader said that the government was happy to claim the credit when things were going well but too quick to shift the blame onto others whenever things went badly.

"The key problem is that the Mitsotakis government has lost the trust of the citizens and is unable to convince them because, instead of funding the message with targeted campaigns, it financed the medium. Mandatory vaccination is the last resort," he added.

"Now is the time when we must try to convince our fellow citizens. It is not an issue of political dispute, it is a matter of health for each of us. 'Yes to life, yes to vaccination, no to division' is our message," Tsipras said.

On the possibility of forming a coalition government after the elections, which will be held with a system of proportional representation, SYRIZA-PA's leader said that the party's main goal was the formation of a progressive government and a move away from a "neoliberal and anti-social direction".

The dilemma was whether such a government will be formed on the day after the elections "or whether we will have political extortion, repeat elections and dangerous adventures," he added.

He accused the prime minister of "legislating only for himself and his class" and offered explanations for various announcements made during his speech on Saturday, including the plans to raise the salaries of doctors in the public health system in order to counteract the brain drain and the loss of doctors to countries abroad.

Tsipras also highlighted Mitsotakis' decision to grant ministerial posts to former top members of the far-right LAOS party, saying it was an oxymoron for the prime minister to lay claim to the political centre, and described the naturalisation of the Antetokounmpo family as a "crescendo of hypocrisy" given the simultaneous silence over the actions of MP Konstantinos Bogdanos.

He accused the government of lacking a national strategy with regard to relations with Turkey and other foreign policy issues, criticised the way the prime minister was handling issues relating to his wealth statement, while stressing that the high taxation of the middle class had not been SYRIZA's choice but something imposed on the party as part of the memorandum programme in order to settle Greece's debt.

He said that Mitsotakis had misled pensioners and the middle classes, scrapping the 13th pension and privatising the system "with the prospect of a 70 billion black hole in the future".

"We left 37 billion euros in the public coffers, what does the Mitsotakis government leave? Debts and only debts," he added.

He said that Greece must not miss the opportunity to support the economy now that it was able to borrow at low rates and had access to the recovery fund, adding that things will become much more difficult once fiscal restrictions return.

Tsipras stressed that the countries of the European south must have a single position, adding: "I don't know what the government's position is...it voted for a medium-term [framework] that includes a fiscal correction of nine points in two years, before the conversation even started."

Tsipras said that SYRIZA wants people to prosper, as well as the numbers, noting that the growth figures also revealed a jump in imports versus exports, revealing a serious problem with the Greek economy's productivity.

He said he was not especially worried by SYRIZA's low ratings in opinion polls, noting that the party's percentage share of the vote has been systematically underestimated in the past, adding that the party's goal was to come first with a sizeable difference, which he said will increase the chances of forming a progressive government.

READ MORE: Tsipras: New Democracy’s strategy against economic problems is “irresponsible, if not criminal.”