Friday, June 15, 2012

Euro or drachma?

June 15, 2012

Workers were busy on Friday afternoon setting the stage for Antonis Samaras, leader of the centre-right New Democracy (ND) party, to wrap up his election campaign with a final rousing “euro-or-drachma?” speech in Syntagma square in the centre of Athens. The choice of venue signaled that the conservatives are feeling confident about the vote on June 17th. At the inconclusive election on May 6th, Mr Samaras held his final outdoor rally in a space much easier to fill.

Heading into Sunday’s vote, unpublished opinion polls carried out for political parties gave New Democracy as much as a three point lead over Syriza, the upstart radical left coalition. (Greek law bans the publication of polls in the two weeks before a general election.) Both parties are hovering around the 30% mark, while the PanHellenic Socialist Movement (Pasok) trails with around 10% support. But with as many as 12% of voters still undecided, the conservatives could yet be overtaken by a last-minute Syriza surge, say pollsters.

Alexis Tsipras, the leader of Syriza, blasted both New Democracy and Pasok in his own final speech on Thursday, staged not in Syntagma but in Athens’s grittier Omonia square, one of the city’s busiest transport hubs. He accused both parties of systematically “looting” Greece while in power and, recently, “poisoning” the political climate with scaremongering over Greece’s possible exit from the euro if it fails to keep to the terms of a €130 billion bail-out agreed to in February with the European Union (EU) and International Monetary Fund (IMF).


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