Greek election: Tsipras rejects 'unnatural' coalition

Greek politicians Alexis Tsipras and Vangelis Meimarakis arrive for a TV debate Image copyright AFP
Image caption It was all smiles when the pair arrived for the debate but it is not likely the two will be in government together

The leader of Greece's left-wing Syriza party, Alexis Tsipras, has ruled out forming a coalition with his main rival if he wins Sunday's election.

Speaking during a debate with centre-right New Democracy leader Vangelis Meimarakis, Mr Tsipras said such a unity government would be "unnatural".

Polls suggests neither are likely to secure a parliamentary majority.

Mr Tsipras called the snap election after securing a multi-billion euro bailout last month.

In the debate, hosted by state broadcaster ERT, Mr Meimarakis said Greeks wanted the stability that only a grand coalition could bring.

"We can have a national team not only in the governance of the country, but also a national negotiating team [for Greece's bailout]," he said.

But Mr Tsipras replied that the two had "fundamental differences" and so a unity government would not be possible.

The view from Twitter

Image copyright AP
Image caption A microphone cable stood in the way of a handshake

Greeks, journalists and pundits found the debate somewhat underwhelming...

"Tsipras wins out but the opponent was dead! In fact, Tsipras did not win, Meimarakis lost!" - @StathisPsillos

"Debate ends. ND supporters feel that Meimarakis won tonight. I think no one really won. Tsipras was somehow defensive though" - @YanniKouts

"Truth to be told, this is not a good performance by #Meimarakis. Tsipras on full-populism mode, but doesn't come off as obnoxious" - @GreekAnalyst

"Tsipras appeared relatively nervous & with weak arguments at second debate between the two top political parties" - @VKarayannis

"Debate ends with no winner. not sure whether they persuaded indecisive voters" - @GiorgosKentas

The debate was billed as a chance to win over crucial undecided voters, with both parties drawing 31.6% in a recent poll for ANT1 TV.

A first debate included five other parties, but this one allowed the two men to ask each other questions and comment on answers.

Mr Tsipras won power earlier this year pledging to end austerity, but was instead forced to accept a rescue package that included more cuts.

He has said he wants to continue to fight against poverty and corruption, while Mr Meimarakis has accused him of wrecking the economy while in power.