Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras on Friday morning indirectly cited the possibility of a snap election, essentially for the first time during his more than four-year tenure - during an appearance on a morning news program on the state broadcaster.
Tsipras indirectly left open the prospect of declaring an early election if his hard left SYRIZA party is not first in Sunday's European Parliament election, noting that such a prospect would mean voters have not been swayed by a recent cache of "pre-election" VAT rate cuts and even a social security bonus, dubbed as a "13th pension" by his government. A day earlier he even promised a 50-euro hike in all social security benefits, but for 2020, months after a general election must be held.
"If the people disapprove of the relief measures, then the possibility that they (measures) will be suspended is left open... any loss by SYRIZA, no matter the percentage, means we're entering into unknown territory," he said during a live appearance on the ERT broadcaster, directly charging that his main political opponent will overturn or not enact his latest spending measures.
He said Sunday's election is a "vote of confidence" for his fiscal plan.
In another unprecendented move, the finance ministry last week announced that all social security benefits in Greece, specifically for June 2019, will be disbursed a week earlier than usual, on Friday, May 24 - 48 hours before Sunday's election.
Tsipras has repeatedly maintained that he'll exhaust his four-year mandate to the very last day, meaning general elections no later than mid October 2019.
However, his SYRIZA party has trailed center-right main opposition New Democracy (ND) party in all mainstream opinion polls for at least two years now.
If ND fields a sizable difference from a "second-place" SYRIZA on Sunday night, and with the latter's candidates in municipal and regional government elections also apparently foundering in this month's two-stage elections, then Tsipras will face the prospect of an even bigger loss in October's general election - according to political analysts and pollsters - and of heading up a "lame duck" government for several months.