Absolute majority will 'free hands' to renegotiate Greek debt: Tsipras

Greek leftist leader Alexis Tsipras on Friday said an absolute majority in Sunday's general election would "free" his hands to renegotiate the country's massive debt. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
Greek leftist leader Alexis Tsipras on Friday said an absolute majority in Sunday's general election would "free" his hands to renegotiate the country's massive debt. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

ATHENS (AFP) - Greek leftist leader Alexis Tsipras on Friday said an absolute majority for his Syriza party in Sunday’s election would “free” his hands to renegotiate the country’s onerous debt.

An absolute majority will give “the necessary strength... and free hands to negotiate” with Greece’s European peers, Tsipras told a news conference.

Syriza, the frontrunner ahead of Sunday’s ballot, want to throw out the unpopular multi-billion-euro bailout Greece signed five years ago in return for bankruptcy-saving loans.

Tsipras, 40, said Greece would “regain its dignity” starting Monday and would no longer be “governed by emails sent by second-tier EU staff.”

Two days before voting, some polls give Syriza a projected lead of more than 5 per cent over its conservative rivals, New Democracy.

“The day after the election there will be no troika,” Tsipras said, referring to the audit team representing the three creditors – the EU, IMF and the European Central Bank.

“We will do whatever it takes to save the dignity of our people,” he said.

“This is a first-ever opportunity for the Left, but it could be Greece’s last chance,” Tsipras said, expressing his opposition to the “Protestant logic” of austerity mainly espoused by Germany.

New Democracy’s leader, Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, looks set to be punished at the ballot box for sticking to deep spending cuts demanded by the IMF and the EU.

The European Union, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund are concerned at Tsipras’ pledge to renegotiate its debt which stands at 318 billion euros (S$480 billion).

Some analysts fear it could end with Greece leaving the euro zone.

Greece is still locked in a fiscal audit by its creditors that is holding back some 7.2 billion euros in pending loans.

Samaras’ outgoing government had brokered a two-month extension to the end of February to allow for the election.

But Tsipras on Friday said his party would aim to complete his negotiation with creditors by July.

“In July-August over 10 billion euros in Greek bonds held by the European Central Bank mature,” he said.

“A mutually beneficial and viable solution will need to be found by then, and I am certain that it will,” he said.