Saturday, June 16, 2012

Greek Voters Face Tough Choices

Wall Street Journal
June 16, 2012

Greek voters go to the polls Sunday to elect a new leader tasked with guiding their country through its worst economic crisis in decades: Antonis Samaras, a 61-year-old Harvard-educated economist and scion of the establishment, or Alexis Tsipras, a 37-year-old former communist and student radical.

The two men offer very different solutions to indebted Greece's social and financial woes—Mr. Samaras mostly backs a bailout agreement with the European Union and the tough restructuring efforts and budget cuts that go with it, while Mr. Tsipras says the deal should be thrown out and Greece should end its austerity measures.

Public-opinion polls show them neck and neck in the final stretch of Greece's second election in less than two months. Polls on May 6 delivered inconclusive results, and in the weeks since then, Messrs. Samaras and Tsipras have scrambled to attract enough support so that they and their respective allies can win a governing majority.

The foreshortened campaign has been unusual and hard-fought, with canvassers going door to door, a spate of attack ads by New Democracy, and spirited social-media operations. With parties short of cash, there have been few rallies. Instead of lavish promises, candidates have delivered widely different prescriptions for the economy.

"This is the first issue-based race in modern Greek history," said Spiros Rizopoulos, a political communications consultant and chief executive of Spin Communications in Athens.


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