Greece to hold snap elections after EU polls

In this April 3, 2018 file photo, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras attends a cabinet meeting at the parliament in Athens, Greece. (Reuters)

Greece is facing a snap general election scheduled on June 7 after Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and his ruling Syriza party suffered a heavy defeat in the European Parliament elections last month. Tsipras called the snap election four months before the end of his term.

Greece’s president accepted a request from Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras to dissolve parliament Monday. The request from Tsipras and approval from President Prokopis Pavlopoulos were considered formalities. Tsipras has said this will avoid a protracted pre-election period before the end of his term in October, which might have hurt economic progress made in recent years.

The prime minister’s Syriza party finished the European Parliament election well behind the conservative opposition party, New Democracy. The leader of a former partner party in the current coalition government, former defense minister Panos Kammenos, said Sunday that his Independent Greeks would not participate in an early parliamentary election. Kammenos resigned from Tsipras’ Cabinet and ended the coalition with Syriza in January over a deal to resolve a long-running dispute over the name of the neighboring Republic of Macedonia, but five of his party’s other nine lawmakers in parliament abandoned him instead.

Tsipras, 44, stormed the Greek political stage six years ago, promising to fight austerity prescribed by Greece’s lenders in return for financial bailouts after years of economic crisis. His Syriza party was forced to backpedal and accept another bailout soon after its election in 2015 or risk Greece being thrown out of the eurozone.