Athens Digest 11.06.2019

• Tsipras meets President to call snap elections, outlines program targeting middle class

• Mitstotakis vows to introduce different economic policy

• Vandals target Thessaloniki university, again

• Alter Ego owned by shipping magnate issued Greece’s 6th nationwide TV license

# Shortly after meeting President Prokopis Pavlopoulos to ask for the dissolution of Parliament and national elections next month (July 7), Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras outlined his party’s program which, he said, will target the middle class in a bid to leave behind the gloom after SYRIZA’s battering in European Parliament elections. He said that the plan ncludes pledges to create 500,000 new jobs over the next four years, a new minimum wage hike of 7.5 percent in 2020 and another 7.5 pct rise in 2021, 10,000 new hirings in health and 15,000 new hirings in education. Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos announced a 50-percent reduction in the downpayment of tax for businesses and a gradual reduction of the first bracket of income tax to 20 percent over the period stretching from 2020 to 2022. However, legislation already passed by the government has created a “hole,” according to the European Commission.

# For his part, New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis told German newspaper Handelsblatt, in an interview published yesterday, that his main priority is the formation of a strong and stable government that “will pursue a different economic policy.” The conservative leader said this policy will entail low taxes, faster reforms and a modernized state, which “will attract investments and achieve far higher growth rates than the present government.”  He added that high primary surpluses that the ruling SYRIZA government has signed on to will put a brake on growth and insisted that the path leading to a reduction of Greece’s debt burden is that of high growth rates.

# Unknown assailants broke into the premises of the Aristotle University in northern Greek city of Thessaloniki over the weekend, causing damage to building housing the Polytechnic school. According to reports, university staff found scores of used fire extinguishers strewn on the floors and slogans spray-painted on the walls, as well as signs of extensive drug use.  University authorities expressed concern over the recent rise in the number of vandal attacks by members of far leftist groups and students. Last week, around 30 university students stormed into the office of the university’s rector shouting abuse and threatening employees, professors and the rector. A similar incident occurred a week before.

On Our Radar: Alter Ego owned by shipping magnate issued Greece’s 6th nationwide TV license 
Media group Alter Ego owned by shipowner Vaggelis Marinakis has been issued with a temporary digital terrestrial license– the country’s sixth TV license to be awarded by the National Broadcasting Council (ESR). According to reports, the audit has so far proceeded smoothly and in the next few days, the license will become permanent. Marinakis, who owns the popular Greek football club Olympiacos and the English Nottingham Forest, is already the owner of traditional Greek media, like ‘Ta Nea’ newspaper. He has been regularly targeted by ruling SYRIZA over his ties with opposition conservatives New Democracy.