Greece's Tsipras hints at possible vote deal with socialists

Athens (AFP) - Greece's former leader Alexis Tsipras has opened the door to a coalition with rivals on the left should his Syriza party fail to win a majority in elections in two weeks' time.

Tsipras, who quit as prime minister last month triggering a snap vote on September 20, had previously ruled out any cooperation with the Pasok socialists or the conservatives of New Democracy, who have alternated in power for much of the last four decades.

But in an interview late Thursday with the TV channel Kontra, he hinted Syriza could work with Pasok if its new leader Fofi Gennimata "distances herself from the right". Pasok and New Democracy have previously governed together in coalition.

"Fofi Gennimata has adopted the position of the right and not that of European social democracy. If that does not change -- and I'd be happy if it did change -- there cannot be any prospect of cooperation," Tsipras said.

Radical-left Syriza swept to power in January, but Tsipras quit after a major rebellion over Greece's huge new financial bailout left him forced to rely on the opposition to ensure the rescue package was adopted by lawmakers.

Opinion polls suggest Syriza has little chance of winning an absolute majority, running neck-and-neck with New Democracy.

A poll Thursday by the TV chain Mega showed Syriza only 0.5 percent ahead of the conservatives. Another poll had on Wednesday given New Democracy a wafer-thin lead for the first time, with 25.3 percent of respondents saying they would vote for the party, ahead of 25 percent for Syriza.

Tsipras had previously only supported an electoral deal with the nationalist Independent Greeks, Syriza's junior coalition partners for the last eight months.

But the nationalists appear unlikely to garner the three percent of the vote needed to stay in parliament, and analysts say Tsipras will have to seek compromises if he wants to stay in power.

Pasok has plunged in popularity in recent years after it signed Greece up for two previous international bailouts that forced the government to introduce sweeping austerity measures.

Opinion polls suggest Pasok currently has less than five percent of the vote but Gennimata hopes to boost the party's chances after announcing it will team up with the small leftist party Dimar.