Greek Former PM Tsipras Seeks Absolute Majority in Election

September 7, 2015 Updated: September 7, 2015

ATHENS, Greece—Greece’s former prime minister said Monday he was seeking an absolute majority for his radical left Syriza Party in upcoming early elections, but indicated a coalition government would be formed quickly if no party wins enough parliamentary seats to govern alone.

Alexis Tsipras resigned last month, triggering early elections on Sept. 20, barely eight months into his four-year term, following a rebellion by Syriza hardliners objecting to his agreement to tax hikes and spending cuts in return for a third international bailout.

Recent opinion polls show Syriza in a dead heat with the opposition New Democracy, but with neither winning enough seats to form a government alone, meaning a coalition will almost certainly be needed to prevent a new election.

“We are seeking an absolute majority,” Tsipras said during a news conference at a trade fair in the northern Greek city of Thessaloniki. However, he said that if there was no outright winner, “Greece will be governed because nobody will take the responsibility of leaving the country ungoverned.”

Tsipras came to power after winning January elections on promises to repeal the harsh austerity measures imposed for Greece’s first two international bailouts by other eurozone countries and the International Monetary Fund. But months of painful negotiations with creditors collapsed in June, with Tsipras calling a referendum and urging voters to reject the creditors’ proposals for reforms.

Despite a resounding “no” vote in the referendum, Tsipras later accepted the creditor demands, saying he had no choice in order to prevent his country from being forced out of the euro. The move outraged his party hardliners, who have split and formed a party of their own advocating Greece returns to its own national currency.

The latest opinion polls published Sunday showed Syriza marginally ahead of New Democracy by less than one percentage point, with more than 11 percent of respondents undecided.