ATHENS, Greece – Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras announced he will step down with an eye to snap elections, a move that would strengthen his authority after a party mutiny over his agreement to a third bailout.
"Now the Greek people need to have their say," Tsipras said. "With your vote you will show who and how Greece can be led on the difficult but hopeful road in front of us. With your vote you will judge us all."
After his televised speech, Tsipras emerged from his Athens office onto the sidewalk at about 8:50 p.m. local time and walked next door to say he would offer his resignation to the Greek president. He used his speech to recite his successes, from negotiating the new aid package to a firmer commitment from euro-area partners to consider debt relief.
He didn't give a date for the ballot, though a government official earlier said a vote could be held on Sept. 20.
Greek stocks and bonds dropped on Thursday as Tsipras met with his cabinet in Athens to discuss his next moves after the approval of a bailout of 86 billion euros ($96 billion) from the European Stability Mechanism rescue fund. Tsipras, who was elected in January on an anti-austerity platform, last week approved sweeping economic overhauls attached to the bailout at the cost of seeing his Syriza party split.
Tsipras, who was elected in January on an anti-austerity platform, last week approved sweeping economic overhauls attached to the bailout at the cost of seeing his Syriza party split. A Greek government official said then that Tsipras might hold a vote of confidence soon after the Aug. 20 deadline for a debt repayment, a move that could trigger early elections.
"Elections as early as in September could make more sense to Alexis Tsipras but also to the economy as it would reduce the period of uncertainty," said analysts at Axia Ventures Group led by Constantinos Zouzoulas. With the support of smaller pro-European Union parties such as The River and Pasok, the election winner "could create a strong coalition that will be able to pass and implement reforms."
Tsipras is seeking to shed unhelpful members of his own party before Greece faces an October review of progress in meeting the rescue terms and the need for more disbursements of international aid.
The refusal of 44 Syriza party rebels to back the bailout in an Aug. 14 parliamentary vote meant Tsipras effectively lost his governing majority, Energy Minister Panagiotis Skourletis said in an interview on state-run ERT TV on Thursday. "There's no getting around that," he said.