Greece ‘s Prime Minister Antonis Samaras was accused of being afraid to face major opposition Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) leader Alexis Tsipras after the New Democracy Conservative leader said he wouldn’t take the challenge for a r a TV debate ahead of the critical elections for municipalities and the European Parliament this month.
The idea for the head-to-head showdown was presented by SYRIZA spokesman Panos Skourletis to government spokesman Simos Kedikoglou and was for two debates, one on the economy and the other on national and European issues.
New Democracy said no, adding that the proposal should have been made when the all-party committee met to discuss elections details, including party funding. The panel, however, has been disbanded after completing its work head of the local elections on May 18 and 25 and the European Parliament vote on May 25.
ND spokeswoman Anna-Michel Asimakopoulou then issued a statement attacking SYRIZA for making the request and pointing out that Tsipras, who is also the European Left’s candidate for European Commission President, had failed to take part in two debates this week with rival hopefuls for that office.
“Mr. Tsipras’s party never made a request for a debate while the committee was sitting,” she said. SYRIZA, which has repeatedly criticized Samaras for not answering questions in Parliament regularly enough, claimed the prime minister was avoiding the debate.
“He is afraid of dialogue,” said the leftist party. “That is why he is absent from Parliament and why he refuses to take part in a debate with the leader of the opposition just as he did before the 2012 elections.”
Contradictory polls show both parties ahead with the elections looming. Tsipras predicted SYRIZA will win so big that the coalition government, which includes the vanishing PASOK Socialists, will be repudiated, forcing early national elections before its term runs out in 2016.
SYRIZA opposes the harsh austerity measures Samaras imposed on the orders of international lenders and Tsipras said if he comes to power he will seek to revise the terms or renege on the 240 billion euros ($330.7 billion) the country owes to the Troika of the European Union-International Monetary Fund-European Central Bank (EU-IMF-ECB).