As Tsipras seeks to implement tough measures, aides press for early elections

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Fearing that the government may suffer yet more political wear and tear as it tries to steer clear of pitfalls of the fourth bailout review, senior officials are increasing the pressure on Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras to hold early elections in March.

This push for snap elections comes amid government plans for a cabinet reshuffle in January in a bid to reverse the backlash emanating from foreclosure auctions and the problematic visit last week of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The noose is also expected to tighten with an imminent trade union law in January and the anemic growth projections in 2017.

Tsipras had reportedly first mulled a reshuffle in early September but deferred any action so as not to put a freeze on negotiations with creditors – as the ruling coalition’s main priority was the completion of the third review.

But having now secured an agreement with the lenders, government officials say the countdown to a reshuffle has begun.

Most probably this will take place immediately after the Eurogroup on January 22 which will officially seal the agreement with Greece’s lenders.

According to sources, the nature of the reshuffle is expected to influence Tsipras on the timing of elections.

If the reshuffle is of a corrective nature – which is the most likely case – that will be a clear indication that he plans to head for the ballot box no earlier that the end of 2018.

On the other hand, if there is a radical overhaul of his cabinet then this may suggest that he might spring an early election surprise before the summer.

The coming months will be no walk in the park for the government as – according to the Supplemental Memorandum of Understanding signed by the government and international creditors on December 2 and revealed by Kathimerini – it will have to implement 82 prior actions in the period stretching from March to June, beyond the 110 prior actions stipulated in the third review.

This means that the privatizations of Hellenic Petroleum (ELPE), Public Gas Corporation (DEPA) and Public Power Corporation (PPC) and the Elliniko plot development project must also get under way.

Moreover, the government must also decide in May whether to reduce the income tax threshold in 2019 or 2020.


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