Alexis Tsipras |(

Greece’s Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has announced he is resigning and has called an early election.

Mr. Tsipras, who was only elected in January, said he had a moral duty to go to the polls now a third bailout had been secured with European creditors.

The election date is yet to be set but earlier reports suggested 20 September.

Mr. Tsipras will lead his leftist Syriza party into the polls, but he has faced a rebellion by some members angry at the bailout’s austerity measures. He had to agree to painful state sector cuts, including far-reaching pension reforms, in exchange for the bailout – and keeping Greece in the eurozone.

Greece received the first €13bn ($14.5bn) tranche of the bailout on Thursday after it was approved by relevant European parliaments. It allowed Greece to repay a €3.2bn debt to the European Central Bank and avoid a messy default.

The overall bailout package is worth about €86bn over three years.

Alexis Tsipras made the announcement in a televised state address on Thursday.

“The political mandate of the 25 January elections has exhausted its limits and now the Greek people have to have their say,” he said.

“I want to be honest with you. We did not achieve the agreement we expected before the January elections.”

Mr. Tsipras said he would seek the Greek people’s approval to continue his government’s programe.

Mr. Tsipras said Greeks would have to decide whether he had represented them courageously with the creditors.

He met President Prokopis Pavlopoulos later in the evening to submit his resignation. He is reported to have to told the President that the present parliament cannot offer a government of majority or a national unity government.

Greece will be run by a caretaker government ahead of the polls. If a government resigns within a year of election, the constitution requires the president to ask the second-largest party – in this case the conservative New Democracy – to try to form an administration.
If this fails, the next largest party must be given a chance. Analysts say both parties can waive this and allow the president to approve the snap election.

However, New Democracy leader Vangelis Meimarakis said it was his “political obligation and responsibility to exhaust all the options”, even though the numbers suggest he has little chance. (BBC)