'The Greek prime minister, Alexis Tsipras, has kicked off his campaign for upcoming general elections, asking voters to give his leftwing government the chance to act “without our hands tied” the second time around.
Unveiling Syriza’s programme after formally requesting parliament’s dissolution, Tsipras acknowledged the “anger and fatigue” that had led to the leftist party’s crushing defeat in the European parliamentary elections and pledged that job creation and lower taxes would be the central pillars of a new term in office.
“Greeks have the right to hope,” the prime minister told Syriza party cadres, recalling years of strict supervision by bailout creditors keeping the debt-stricken nation afloat. “We had to clench our teeth and take difficult decisions on a road that was not at all easy … I understand the anger and fatigue of many but now we deserve a chance to govern for the first time without our hands tied.”
The embattled leader was forced to call a snap election four months ahead of schedule after Syriza lost by an unprecedented 9.5 points to the main opposition New Democracy party in the European vote and by an even wider margin in local polls also held in May.
On Tuesday the vote was set by presidential decree for 7 July.
The scale of the leftists’ defeat, described as a “huge shock” by senior Syriza figures, was attributed mostly to the loss of the middle class, hit by a regimen of high taxes in the four years since Tsipras assumed power. An unusually high abstention rate was also blamed.
The result was a far cry from 2015 when the once tiny party seized power vowing to “tear up” the accords of draconian austerity that Athens had signed with lenders.
But in a bid to regain ground lost after being forced to adopt the very policies he had once railed against, Tsipras has now taken a leaf from his conservative rival’s book, promising to reduce income tax and a much loathed property tax.'
Read more: Tsipras asks Greek voters for chance to govern 'without our hands tied'
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