Amendments in Parliament fuel snap election scenarios in Greece

Widespread speculation over early elections in Greece continued unabated this week, and was in fact exacerbated by the tabling of two amendments in Parliament to allow the possible holding of local government and European Parliament elections at the same time in 2019.

The amendments – submitted two days apart – bear signature of 16 deputies from ruling SYRIZA, the dominant party in the current two-party leftist-rightist coalition.

The development, obscure if viewed from afar, nevertheless reveals disagreements among the ruling party’s top cadres over when to hold general elections in 2019, given that the now decidedly poll-trailing Tsipras government faces two major political “hot potatoes” on its “plate” for 2019: implementing its own law to further reduce state spending in the social security sector in 2019, part of a “tax tsunami” decided in 2016 to fulfill memorandum-demanded fiscal targets, as well as ratifying a bilateral agreement to finally resolve the thorny fYRoM “name issue”.

The 16 MPs are considered as close to PM Alexis Tsipras, whereas the relevant interior minister, Panos Skourletis, was reportedly obliged to accept and table the amendments, despite his standing position to hold local government elections in 2019 as late as possible. The later date would have, by all accounts, coincided with an autumn general election in the country.

With the tabled amendments (if ratified), local government elections can be held in May 2019, along with Europarliament elections, a prospect that generated even more speculation that a general poll will be declared for the same month.