enikos.gr– Greek political leaders engaged in a three-hour televised debate in order to convince wavering voters before the snap election of September 20.
Those participating in the debate on Wednesday evening were: Syriza leader Alexis Tsipras, New Democracy leader Evangelos Meimarakis, PASOK’s Fofi Gennimata, Potami’s Stavros Theodorakis, Communist Party leader Dimitris Koutsoumbas and Independent Greeks head Panos Kammenos, but not Nikos Michaloliakos of neofascist Golden Dawn.
Tsipras admitted making mistakes in negotiations for a massive new bailout agreement, but insisted the deal would safeguard the country’s financial future.
“There were mistakes and exaggerations, but they were corrected at the critical moment,” said Tsipras, who spent much of the debate on the defensive.
“We did not surrender. We reached a painful compromise that has many positive elements for the Greek people.”
Meimarakis reiterated calls for the two biggest parties to form a coalition to implement the agreed bailout measures, and he offered to visit Tsipras in his office on Thursday to discuss potential points of convergence.
He also accused Syriza of wrecking the fragile recovery that that the ND coalition had achieved. “In January, when we handed over the country, the economy was in a much better state than it is now,” Meimarakis said.
Lafazanis, accused the prime minister of hypocrisy in embracing measures he had once so vehemently opposed. “There are no good or bad memoranda,” he said referring to the accords outlining the onerous terms of the bailouts Greece has signed up to with creditors. “They all lead to catastrophe.”
Theodorakis said the support of his party could not be taken for granted. “We voted for the memorandum of Tsipras as the alternative was worse,” he said.
“But that doesn’t mean we’re not going to defend the losers of the memorandum,” he said, referring to the unemployed and businesses forced to close. He emphasized the need for a review of the public sector, saying statist practices must be ended.
Koutsoumbas, whom Lafazanis has called upon to join a pre-election alliance, repeated his opposition to such a prospect, saying his party’s Grexit plan and that of Lafazanis are “night and day.”
Socialist leader Gennimata, criticized the government’s seven-month record in office during the live debate.
“If there was a Golden Raspberry award for the economy, Mr. Tsipras would definitely be the winner,” she said.
“He turned surpluses into deficits, emptied out welfare funds, and took us to the brink of euro exit and catastrophe.