The televised debate between the leaders of New Democracy and SYRIZA before the election on 17 June remains questionable. Although the talks between the representatives of both parties entrusted with the task went flawlessly until yesterday, they were suddenly interrupted and followed by an exchange of harsh and accusatory messages.
"SYRIZA did not want a debate, so it did everything possible to spoil it," the spokesman of the "blue" Yiannis Mihelakis said.
This was New Democracy’s reply to a message by SYRIZA with which the radical left wanted to conduct two televised debates: one between Alexis Tsipras and Antonis Samaras and a second one with the participation of all political leaders except Golden Dawn’s. "The need for a debate between the leaders of all parties except that of Golden Dawn cannot be replaced with a debate between the leaders of New Democracy and SYRIZA. Therefore, we suggest that there should be two debates," their message stated.
Among other things, the party suggested that the debate should be led by two journalists: Eli Stai "from the public television which will broadcast the debate" and Nikos Hatzinikolaou "as an experienced television journalist, currently not working for any TV."
New Democracy’s comment was immediate, "At the moment when the main framework of the televised debate was outlined, both sides agreed to make a joint statement by the end of the day. SYRIZA, however, issued separate messages both yesterday and today. So, it not only broke its promise but everything that was agreed in advance."
It stated that once it was agreed to conduct a debate between the two party leaders, SYRIZA "was quick to make a mess of everything: names of journalists, procedures, they even mocked other parties for the sole purpose of boycotting everything."
New Democracy's spokesman accused SYRIZA of "irresponsibility" and "levity." He also added that Alexis Tsipras finds it apparently difficult to explain his position "for the support by the lobby of the drachma, for hiding terrorists, for the naturalization of millions of illegal immigrants, for the exit of Greece from NATO, for the processions of the youth organization in Skopje in support of the name Macedonia and for their constant support for the black trade on the streets and for hooded youths."
SYRIZA’s response was also incisive. The party blamed the "blue" of "cowardice". "After being silent for days, New Democracy has finally decided to announce the decision taken in advance for not participating in a debate because it is afraid of opposing its positions with those of other parties before the Greek people. This is a cowardly political position, which is irreparably discrediting it."
According to SYRIZA, the talks between representatives of both parties made it clear that Antonis Samaras was afraid of confrontation. The party justified its proposal for two debates in that they wanted to convince the "blue" on the need to conduct a vivid dialogue, "as happens in all European countries, rather than two parallel monologues."
Another message from New Democracy followed which accused SYRIZA of attribution to "shameless lies" and added that the proposal for a debate between Alexis Tsipras and Antonis Samaras is still valid under the conditions already agreed upon.
SYRIZA replied, "Since New Democracy does not agree with our proposal, the arrangement is only in the heads of Antonis Samaras’ collaborators, who have no connection with reality."
They added, "We have coldly endured the systematic informal dissemination of information by New Democracy that we have allegedly agreed to hold a debate between two leaders. We unreservedly accepted their proposal to hold the debate on 11 June instead of on 7 June. We clarified our positions for the debate in our message of today. New Democracy has the opportunity to publicly explain with which of them it agrees and disagrees."
State TV journalist Eli Stai did not hide her discontent and said that if she was the reason for the failed debate Tsipras - Samaras, she was ready to withdraw from it. "I surrender. The state television should choose another colleague," she said in the central news feed she hosts.