Saturday, June 16, 2012

For Greek Leftist Candidate, a Strange Bedfellow

Wall Street Journal
June 16, 2012

Much of the Greek establishment is arrayed against Alexis Tsipras, the upstart politician whose bid in Sunday's elections to become prime minister is threatening to fracture the euro zone.

But the leftist Mr. Tsipras does have an unusual supporter in the business world: one of Greece's brashest media owners who, unlike Mr. Tsipras, believes the country should leave the euro zone.

Giorgos Kouris, a youthful-looking 74-year-old who says he eats more than four pounds of honey a month to keep healthy, has sided with politicians from the two main parties, the Socialist Pasok and conservative New Democracy, over the past three decades. But that was before Greece's economic crisis sparked a popular backlash against the two parties and propelled Syriza to a second-place finish in May's election.

The crisis has upended one of Mr. Kouris's main businesses, the Alter television station, leaving him in a standoff with hundreds of workers who haven't been paid in almost a year. But the labor problems haven't deterred Mr. Kouris from supporting Mr. Tsipras, the leader of Syriza. Mr. Kouris says he is using his media holdings, which include Alter, a tabloid called Avriani and the new Kontra channel, to help get Mr. Tsipras elected.


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