Greece is facing a snap general election after prime minister Alexis Tsipras and his ruling Syriza party suffered a heavy defeat in voting for the European Parliament last month.
The vote will be held on July 7, almost four months before the leftwing Syriza government’s term was due to expire. Mr Tsipras tendered his resignation to President Prokopis Pavlopoulos on Monday, saying the country had “entered a prolonged pre-electoral period from the day after the European elections.”
“I believe this could presage risks for the smooth course of the economy . . . endangering the virtuous circle we have entered and the sacrifices the Greek people have made,” he said.
Mr Pavlopoulos approved the premier’s request immediately.
The European Commission warned last week that handouts legislated by the Syriza government ahead of the European vote could derail Greece’s target for a primary budget surplus — before debt servicing costs — of 3.5 per cent of gross domestic product for this year.
The centre-right New Democracy party topped the polls on May 27, finishing 9.5 percentage points ahead of Syriza.
Published opinion polls in the past two weeks indicate that New Democracy under Kyriakos Mitsotakis, a former minister for civil service reform, would win a national election by a similar margin and be able to form a government on its own.
Syriza’s former coalition partner, the rightwing Independent Greeks (Anel) headed by Panos Kammenos, a former defence minister, announced on Monday it would not contest the general election. Anel won just 0.8 per cent of the vote in the European election.
Mr Tsipras was due to kick off Syriza’s campaign on Monday evening by announcing the party’s policy platform at a closed-door meeting in Athens.