Greece’s main opposition New Democracy (ND) party leader, Kyriacos Mitsotakis, said during a customary press conference on Sunday in the context of the 83rd Thessaloniki International Fair that the country is in need of an early election sooner rather than later.
He went on to predict that the next general election will coincide with local and European parliament elections next year. While leaving open the possibility of cooperating with political parties from across the political spectrum if his party wins the election, Mitsotakis ruled out any possibility of forming a grand coalition that includes SYRIZA.
The ND leader was strongly critical of the government and Prime Minister, especially in the handling of the economy. He argued that the country is still committed to austerity measures – which he likened to a 4th memorandum.
Commenting on a series of pledges made by PM Alexis Tsipras last week aimed at supporting the working and middle classes, Mitsotakis said these do not compare to New Democracy’s proposed economic policies which aim at promoting growth, not equally distributing poverty.
He went on to reiterate his intention to slash taxes and social security contributions, reform the civil service and cut State expenditure as part of an “ambitious, overall plan to reverse the country’s fortunes”.
Mitsotakis revealed that his party will back whatever measures Alexis Tsipras brings to parliament that copy ND policy proposals. However, he made clear that he was keen to see the ultimate shape and scope of the government’s intended measures first.
Focusing on a proposal to reduce the ENFIA property tax, the main opposition leader said the tax will be managed and collected by local authorities, substituting the central government funds channeled to municipalities under the current system.
Asked if a ND government will uphold legislated cuts to pensions and the income tax-free threshold in 2019 and 2020 respectively, Mitsotakis said these unnecessary measures have already been voted into law by the SYRIZA-ANEL coalition, so his focus as PM would be on offsetting the impact of the cuts.
He was critical of the economic policy mix implemented by the government with the agreement of international creditors, adding that he will try to convince the latter of the necessity to reduce taxes and contributions in order for the economy to recover. “Gaining access to debt markets will be a top priority for a New Democracy government”, the center-right leader said.
Commenting on the FYROM name-change deal, Kyriacos Mitsotakis accused the Prime Minister and his coalition partner Panos Kammenos of deceiving the Greek people. He said that New Democracy is doing everything in its power to block the Prespes Agreement and will oppose it in parliament. Moreover, Mitsotakis revealed that a prospective ND government will not ratify the agreement if it is called upon to do so.
On Saturday, Mitsotakis presented his vision for the future of Greece and his plans for the economy, institutions, governance, security, society, foreign affairs and education policy in the event that his party comes to power in the next election. Apart from a series of proposed economic measures Mitsotakis also presented a plan to overhaul governance and boost the country’s standing on the international stage. “New Democracy means new jobs” he said./IBNA