Days ahead of election, Greece’s Tsipras says grand coalition would be ‘unnatural’

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Alexis Tsipras, leader of the the incumbent Leftist Syriza party, is struggling to convince voters to back him, seven months after his party stormed to power promising to overturn five years of creditor-imposed austerity. Opinion polls on Sunday indicated very close competition between the rival Greek political parties, adding an element of suspense to the snap elections on September, 20.

With Syriza and New Democracy battling for the top spots, the far-right Golden Dawn looks set to come in third, with the Communist (KKE) party following behind.

In a televised debate late Monday, Tsipras vowed to form a “progressive” coalition that wouldn’t include opposition leader Evangelos Meimarakis’ center-right New Democracy party. Last week’s opinion survey conducted by an MRB poll for the Real News newspaper depicted Syriza’s victory with 25.9 percent of the vote against New Democracy’s 25.5 percent votes.

Both men have said they are anxious to avoid a second round of elections, though the former prime minister insists Syriza will have enough support to govern without New Democracy, while Meimarakis has repeatedly talked up the possibility of a grand coalition.

“Of course I will be prime minister and of course I will turn to other parties if Mr Tsipras is not interested”, said Meimarakis. “We are with the forces that desire a social shift and the disengagement from the neo-liberal doctrines”, the Syriza party leader told.

 

Greece must in October adopt a batch of additional reforms tied to its multi-billion European Union bailout that was ratified by the parliament in August.

Former Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras left and the leader of the left-wing Syriza party is blocked by microphone wiring as he tries to approach main opposition conservative New Democracy head Vangelis Meimarakis right to shake hands prior to a

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