The political leaders’ televised debate before the elections on July 7 will finally not take place , as the political parties involved were unable to agree on the day.
Initially, it had been agreed that the debate would be held on July 1, between the leaders of the political parties in parliament.
- Events in Europe, however, where the recent European Council failed to reach agreement on which European officials should occupy the top jobs in European institutions, led to a decision for another extraordinary EU summit on June 30 that might prevent Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras from being able to attend the debate.
The parties then discussed the possibility of an alternative date for the debate but they could not reach an agreement.
Following the announcement, SYRIZA’s spokesperson Effie Achtsioglou said that, rather than cancel the debate entirely, the prime minister was willing to attend on July 1 “even if he needs to be transported directly from the airport to the studio”.
- “Alexis Tsipras declares his availability to hold the debate on the evening of July 1, even if he needs to be transported directly from the airport to the studio in order not to cancel this critical TV debate,” she said, and called on all the political forces to keep to their initial commitment to hold the debate on July 1.
“Following developments for an extraordinary summit on July 1, SYRIZA had requested that the date of the political leaders’ debate be transferred to any date other than that, in order for the prime minister to participate. In the current cross-party committee, various parties used pretexts to prevent finding a date other than July 1 so that this crucial debate for comparing party programmes will not finally be held,” she added.
- “As a result, the prime minister declares his readiness to hold the debate on the evening of July 1, even if he needs to be transported directly from the airport to the studio, so as not to cancel the critical TV debate. We call on all the parties to be democratically accountable and consistent with their initial commitment to hold the debate on July 1,” she said.
The head of ND’s press office Constantinos Zoulas, in a statement after the conclusion of the cross-party committee meeting that ended in an impasse, blamed SYRIZA for the cancellation of the debate, saying it was “clearly responsible” as all the parties had agreed that the debate be held on July 1.
- “A few days ago, ND was informed that Tsipras could not be present on July 1 and proposed two alternative dates. The other parties did not agree and suddenly, on Monday, Tsipras finally said that the debate can be held on July 1, at 22:00. ND agreed but the other parties could not change their plan and essentially the debate is cancelled,” Zoulas said.
Movement for Change (Kinima Allagis, KINAL) representative to the cross-party committee Manolis Othonas also blamed SYRIZA for the cancellation of the debate.
- “Today SYRIZA admitted that the reason it gave for the cancellation of the unanimously scheduled debate on Monday, July 1, was merely a pretext from the very beginning,” he said.
It was thus confirmed that Tsipras never wanted to take part in a debate with all the political party leaders, said Othonas.
The Communist Party of Greece (KKE) also refused, noting that it had already twice rescheduled its main rally.
- “KKE, from the start, actively demonstrated its willingness to reach agreement so that the political leaders’ debate might be held live and for this reason changed the date of its main campaign rally in Thessaloniki to July 2,” said a party announcement.
It also explained that “when it was became known that Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras would have difficulty attending the debate on July 1 due to the EU Summit, we discussed alternative dates, such as the June 28 or July 2. We rescheduled our campaign rally in Thessaloniki for July 1, to leave these dates open”.
- Concluding KKE added that it will not engage in petty party politics nor be the ‘patsy’ and totally re-arrange its campaign programme, including its main rallies, to solve impasses for which it was not responsible.
The Centrists’ Union expressed its sorrow over the cancellation of the political leaders’ TV debate and blamed the top three parties for the deadlock. “Clearly, they want elections [decided by] money, TV ads and propaganda and not dialogue to inform the people,” said the party’s announcement.