* Radical left believes it can govern alone
* Minister cool on post-poll deal with pro-bailout parties
* Greece must avoid second round of elections - Skourletis
* Breakaway party appeals for more defectors
By George Georgiopoulos and Renee Maltezou
ATHENS, Aug 25 Greece's radical left Syriza
party can win re-election with an outright majority, a senior
member said on Tuesday, governing without support from
mainstream forces which also back the country's new
Panos Skourletis, energy minister in the Syriza-led
government which resigned last week, also said the nation must
avoid deadlock leading to a second round of elections - a
scenario that politicians are already debating even though a
first round has yet to be called.
Syriza, which during its seven months in power took Greece
to the brink of financial collapse and exit from the euro, is
projecting confidence, although it remains beset by internal
divisions even after it formally split last week.
"I believe that an absolute majority in parliament for
Syriza is achievable," Skourletis told Mega TV. He also played
down the possibility of doing a post-election deal with the main
pro-bailout groups - the conservative New Democracy, centrist To
Potami or the PASOK socialists.
"For collaborations to be politically credible, they must be
based on an existing convergence of programmes, a common
ground," he said. "I do not see this political credibility with
the forces of New Democracy, Potami or PASOK."
Greece's president has tasked two opposition parties with
trying to form a new government after Prime Minister Alexis
Tsipras quit last Thursday, hoping to avoid an election only
seven months after the last one brought Syriza to power.
With parties deeply divided over the bailout - Greece's
third since 2010 - and its tough conditions, New Democracy has
already failed to find coalition partners.
Now Popular Unity, the far-left breakaway from Syriza, is
going through the motions. Its leader, Panagiotis Lafazanis, has
already admitted defeat and is using his three-day presidential
mandate merely to win air time for his anti-bailout message.
Once his mandate expires on Wednesday night, President
Prokopis Pavlopoulos is expected to make one final attempt to
achieve a compromise among the parties. As this is also nearly
certain to fail, he will then appoint a caretaker premier and
call elections within 30 days.
Greeks are starting to worry the election might fail to end
the paralysis just as the country is supposed to be implementing
the bailout measures, and a second round must be held, as in
Skourletis opposed such a scenario. "We must avoid this.
Some things have their limits. People know this and will vote in
such a way so that we do not end up in a jam," he said.
SHOW OF CONFIDENCE
Whether Syriza's show of confidence is justified is unclear.
No opinion poll has been published since July 24, well before
Tsipras resigned and Syriza split. Pollsters say it is hard to
muster a representative sample when many voters are on holiday.
However, most are now returning to the cities and polls are
expected to start appearing shortly.
Syriza is banking on the assumption that Tsipras remains
popular for standing up to Greece's euro zone and IMF creditors,
even though he eventually caved in and accepted their demands
for more austerity and economic reforms in return for 86 billion
euros ($99 billion) in bailout loans.
But if Tsipras wants to jettison the hard left, leaving
Syriza as a party a little closer to the centre that accepts the
bailout, he has work to do.
Altogether 43 out of 149 Syriza lawmakers rebelled earlier
this month by refusing to back the bailout in parliament. But
only 25 subsequently formed Popular Unity, meaning Tsipras has
to deal with a sizeable number of anti-bailout lawmakers who
remain in Syriza.
These include the speaker of parliament Zoe Konstantopoulou
and former finance minister Yanis Varoufakis.
Popular Unity appealed to Syriza doubters to defect.
"Being pro-bailout and anti-bailout in the same party cannot go
on," said Costas Lapavitsas, a former Syriza lawmaker who joined
"The third bailout is from the same womb as the previous
ones. It will bring austerity and recession with a rise in
unemployment," Lapavitsas, an economist who argues Greece would
be better off leaving the euro, told Mega TV.
($1 = 0.8648 euros)
(writing by David Stamp; Editing by Dominic Evans)