Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’ meeting with President Prokopis Pavlopoulos this afternoon the result of which is the dissolution of Parliament and the proclamation of a general election for 7 July marks the formal start of the electoral campaign.
The prime minister’s rationale for calling the snap election is the course of the Greek economy and the need to stabilise it.
Tsipras scrapped plans to hold elections in October at the end of his government’s term after losing the 26 May European Parliament election to New Democracy by a margin of 9.3 percentage points.
The PM’s presentation of SYRIZA’s programme at the Megaron Mousikis (Athens Concert Hall) is focused on four basic pillars: Labor issues (including the reinstatement of collective bargaining contracts) and social insurance, the economy and taxation, the social welfare state, and economic growth with the creation of new jobs.
In these areas the campaign will focus on the dire situation that prevailed when SYRIZA came to power in January, 2015 and will juxtapose SYRIZA’s programme with that of New Democracy, which Tsipras routinely characterises as neo-liberal.
Focus on forgotten, decimated middle class
With the result of the European election having demonstrates that his social benefits and tax cuts package announced on 8 May did not persuade voters, Tsipras’ campaign strategy will focus on the large swathe of middle class voters which had supported SYRIZA in 2015 but feel betrayed by the over-taxation imposed by the government, the deep pension cuts for future retirees, high insurance contributions, and a long list of unfulfilled campaign promises.
The PM will stress the fact that the country exited the third and last bailout memorandum on his watch and will argue that only SYRIZA can ensure growth combined with a strong social welfare net, which he claims New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mistotakis will dismantle to the benefit of the private sector, particularly in the healthcare sector.
Tax cuts, plan for 500,000 jobs over four years
With all the cards stacked against him, Tsipras will attempt to woo voters with promises to create thousands of civil service jobs mainly in the areas of health and education (particularly special education), but also private sector jobs.
The PM will also be running on planned tax cuts that are scheduled to take effect even as he stresses the measures that the government has taken over the last four years to provide relief to the lowest income brackets.
They included a hike in the minimum wage, the abolition of the sub-minimum wage for employees up to the age of 25, and a half-month’s pension as a bonus for retirees (who have suffered over a dozen pension cuts during the decade-long crisis).
Tsipras also plans to announce yet another hike in the minimum wage, the second in less than one year, which will come into effect in 2020.
Tsipras is presenting a plan that he says will lead to the creation of 500,000 new jobs over a period of four years combined with cuts in personal income tax.