Athens.- Candidates continue their campaign stops over the weekend exchanging accusations that if the other is elected, Greece will face doomsday. Antonis Samaras although he stayed at his office on Saturday, he gave a number of interviews to TV channels and newspapers. He is expected to hold a rally in Thessaloniki on Wednesday before returning to Athens for his final public appearance before the elections.In an interview with the weekend edition of “Ta Nea” newspaper, Premier Antonis Samaras maintained that “SYRIZA’s policies will ravage the middle class”, noting that he fiercely opposes a European summit on the Greek debt, which to his view “would complicate things for Greece”.
The premier pledged a gradual cut in taxes, including a reduction in the corporate rate from 25 percent to 15 percent.
“We are taking it step by step, without slipping back into public deficits again,” said Samaras. “Whoever tries to do these in one go without stopping to take stock will create deficits and will end up having to impose higher taxes.”
Samaras underlined that he would be willing to form a new coalition government along with all pro-European political forces. In this framework, he extended his invitation for a great coalition government also to the newly formed KIDHSO party of former Premier George Papandreou, provided that it makes it to the next Parliament. Samaras stood by his decision to reject a public debate with the leader of main opposition Radical Left Coalition SYRIZA party Alexis Tsipras, whom he accused inter alia of being “drowned in a mud of haughtiness”.
In an article he authored, published in “Agora” newspaper, Samaras announced there will be an additional 7% reduction in the controversial property ownership tax ENFIA. He also said that corporate tax will gradually be reduced to 15%, down from 25% today. He supported a gradual reduction of taxes, so as to avoid creating new deficits, finally resulting in an increase of taxation.
Writing in Sunday’s Kathimerini, Samaras dismissed SYRIZA’s demands that the eurozone write down some of Greece’s debt and argued that a lengthening of maturities and and interest rate reduction would suffice.
“We will achieve this based on the [Eurogroup] agreement of November 2012, without clashing with anyone,” wrote the premier. “The only thing we need to do is banish the political uncertainty that has spooked the markets over the last few months. SYRIZA is prolonging this uncertainty.”
New Democracy party’s spokeswoman Maria Spyraki commented on Saturday, that the main opposition Radical Left Coalition “SYRIZA is playing with the safety of Greeks. The parliamentary candidate St. Tyrovolas, after having first insulted the women and men of the Greek Police with derogatory remarks, claims that SYRIZA will abolish MAT”, the heavily-armoured law enforcement units of police. Spyraki went on to claim, that “The plan of Mr Tsipras [leader of SYRIZA] to turn Greece into an ‘unfenced vineyard’ [a place without order] is hereby revealed step-by-step”.
In an additional statement offered on Saturday against SYRIZA, Spyraki said SYRIZA is preparing to tax citizens with a rate of 60%, confiscating the property of the middle class”.
In a series of announcements responding to various accusations by senior government coalition partner New Democracy party, the main opposition Radical Left Coalition SYRIZA party said on Saturday that New Democracy “plays with the intelligence of Greek people”.
SYRIZA accused on Saturday afternoon the senior government coalition partner New Democracy party of orchestrating a “montage operation” against it and that it pursues “a permanent divorce with the middle class”.
SYRIZA denies it ever aimed the simultaneous taxing of both income and property, “as the misleading montage operation of Maximos Mansion [gov’t headquarters] suggested”, clarifying that in case SYRIZA came to power it could modify income tax rates, which would nevertheless remain gradual. Each tax rate would only apply to the part of income which exceeds every preset income threshold.
The main opposition party said that the incumbent government applies the highest tax rate for incomes of 42 thousand euros or more, which in SYRIZA’s point of view means that New Democracy considers someone who earns that much to be rich. SYRIZA appears to be considering raising that threshold to 80 thousand euros.
SYRIZA maintained that the coalition government of Premier Antonis Samaras – leader of New Democracy party – “pauperized men and women in security forces. It used the police to suppress popular reactions, not to protect the citizens.”
The main opposition party said it wants “a police which stands by the citizen, not standing against them”, noting that it will democratize and reorganize the police, “turning Greece into a safe country, which effectively deals with crime, smuggling and drug trafficking”.
In a separate announcement, SYRIZA accused New Democracy of taxing property “from the very first square meter”, saying that “hypocrisy and audacity, however great, cannot cover up the crime committed by Mr Samaras against the property of Greek people”.
“In all of Europe, only Mr Samaras called this nonsene,” wrote Tsipras in Sunday’s Kathimerini. The Irish Times reported on Wednesday that Noonan told Irish ambassadors and civil servants he “would not be dismissive” of a European debt conference being held as long as the issue of Irish, Spanish and Portuguese debt could be discussed
Tsipras’s promise of a public spending spree has gone down well in the last few days. Across the board, Greeks have welcomed his pledge to tackle the country’s “silent humanitarian crisis” by increasing the minimum wage, reducing taxes and hiring in the public sector.
“Our aim is not for a confrontation with our partners, to get more credits or a licence for new deficits,” he wrote in the economic daily Handelsblatt. “It is to stabilise the country, reach a balanced primary budget and end the bloodletting from German and Greek taxpayers.”
Main opposition SYRIZA talks about achieving a stand-alone majority in national elections on January 25, “but you don’t know if it says this as a wish, a threat, an assertion or deep down does not wish to win the elections and form its own government,” PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos said on Friday, in an interview for regional media in western Greece.
Among other things, Venizelos said that “I do not have a problem if some people want to be represented in Europe by (SYRIZA leader) Alexis Tsipras and (Independent Greeks, ANEL, leader) Panos Kammenos.” PASOK, he said, will “hand over the country, on January 25, in one piece – whatever happens after the 26th is another issue.”
The Communist Party of Greece (KKE) plans to use its electoral leverage in order to reinforce the struggle of ordinary people, according to a televised interview on Friday of the party’s general secretary Dimitris Koutsoubas, on “Skai” TV station.
Koutsoubas said, that according to KKE’s view, the party should take over the role of a powerful, “mighty opposition” today, as “conditions are not suitable for a more general clash, overthrow based on political platforms friendly to the People, so as for the party to participate or politically tolerate [support in Parliament] a government”.
He believes it is improbable that Greece will need a second round of parliamentary elections following the ones to be held on January 25th, as he thinks a coalition government based on either New Democracy or SYRIZA will be able to be formed, without excluding the possibility of a “great coalition” government formed by most political parties. Koutsoubas bases this on his view that, apart from KKE, Greek parties seems to strategically agree on major issues regarding the European Union, the euro-zone, NATO, the public debt and its negotiation, as well as the memorandum setting the rules for Greece’s bailout.
The leader of Independent Greeks (ANEL) party Panos Kammenos asserted during a campaign rally at Katerini, northern Greece that his party forms the “guarantors of tomorrow”, noting that “the propaganda of lost vote [towards ANEL] cannot be implemented anymore”, as well as that “lost vote is the one given to New Democracy and PASOK parties [the two government coalition partners], who are now over”. He called on his supporters to “not be allowed to be terrorized by the professionals of fear and terror”.
Kammenos also visited the production facilities of Greek Sugar Industry (EBZ) – a large Greek sugar company – at Plati Imathias, northern Greece and stood by the side of workers in the company, as well as of beet farmers who supply the company with raw material but are owed money by EBZ.