Samaras and Tsipras exchange fire in speeches. Former Prime Minister Papandreou leaves PASOK his father founded and creates a new party.
Athens.- The New Democracy (ND) party will win the elections on January 25, as the main opposition’s lead – shown in polls – has narrowed to the margin of statistical error and will soon be overturned, Prime Minister Antonis Samaras said on Friday during the annual cutting of the New Year’s cake at the party’s headquarters in Athens.
“I am personally optimistic,” Samaras told party members. “SYRIZA’s lead has narrowed to the margin of statistical error and will soon be overturned. We shall win and this will be the end of populism in Greece,” he asserted, adding that the party was devoted to truth and responsibility whereas SYRIZA “has a secret agenda.”
The election takes place three days after a Jan. 22 ECB policy meeting at which the central bank may decide to proceed with a mooted quantitative easing programme to pump billions of euros into the euro zone economy by buying government bonds.
Samaras rejected an invitation by SYRIZA to a debate “with those who for the last 2.5 years have been calling me corrupt and traitor” and said the opposition party could not reach agreement with either the Democratic Left (DIMAR) party or any of its component movements and parties. “Where will they find allies?” Samaras asked.
Saying that “SYRIZA is in a panic, it cannot justify the lies it said and will move unilaterally, bankrupting Greece,” the prime minister also accused the party of not keeping its word. “They said in their congress they would not pay back (loan) interest and installments – this is the definition of bankruptcy. Today they said they would move to internal borrowing, even from small bank depositors.”
Samaras briefly reviewed the government’s achievements, including a reduction in levies, insurance contributions and solidarity tax and said “that following an agreement to be signed with Greece’s troika of lenders we will move towards lower taxation everywhere.”
“Despite SYRIZA’s bravado, people trust the government; there is improvement and it will continue, and SYRIZA’s lead will be overturned,” he said.
No one has the right to jeopardise economic growth, Prime Minister Antonis Samaras said on Saturday, during a visit to a model unit for the production and processing of goji berry in the village of Mataranga, near Larisa in central Greece.
Kicking off his election campaign, Samaras was shown around the premises and spoke to the young farmers who have joined forces to create the unit which is mainly export oriented.
“The future for the Greek farmer is exemplified in these large, innovative units which represent tomorrow, they provide potential. They are exporting units that support the farmer who wants to differentiate his production and do something different,” the Greek premier said.
“With 20 billion euros ensured from the European Union, our farmers have the ability to support new dreams. No one has the right to tear down the potential for something new. No one has the right to play with the subsidies of the Greek farmer, with the exports of his products. This is the Greece of tomorrow, this is the Greece we’re building,” he noted.
Samaras also visited a model quality control unit for agricultural products and he later strolled around the square of Sofades village in Karditsa. In the afternoon he spoke at a central hotel in Larisa.
The President of main opposition Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) Alexis Tsipras said the European Central Bank could not exclude Greece if it decided to move to a full quantitative easing programme to stimulate the euro zone’s faltering economy.
Speaking at a party congress three weeks before a Jan. 25 general election, Tsipras promised his Syriza party would ensure that most of Greece’s debt was written off as part of a renegotiation of its international bailout deal.
Tsipras said he hoped ECB President Mario Draghi would decide to go ahead with the programme and said Greece could not be shut out.
“Quantitative easing by the ECB with direct purchases of government bonds must include Greece,” he said.
Tsipras invited all social forces that “suffered from the memorandum disaster, struggled and are fighting for political change in the country and for the victory of our people” to join forces in the upcoming elections.
Speaking to a meeting of SYRIZA’s central committee, Alexis Tsipras said he is mainly opening up towards the Left and called on leftist socialists, extra-parliamentary leftist groups, the Communist Party of Greece and ANDARSYA to “realise that the battle we have to give is above the existing differences within the Left.”
He said it’s a battle that concerns the present and future of labour forces and the popular movement.
“We are urging them to set aside everything that divides us and work each from his own post to end the social disaster, to overthrow the memorandum government and replace it with a government that places the interests of the majority in the centre,” Tsipras noted.
He also urged Green and anti-memorandum parties which agree in principle with the programme presented by Tsipras in Thessaloniki to coopeate with SYRIZA and to supplement it with their own priorities.
Commenting on the negotiations with the Democratic Left (DIMAR) which fell through, the president of SYRIZA said that despite their recent disagreements, his party was monitoring closely the political processes that followed DIMAR’s departure from the government coalition and added that both parties agree that a change in government will be beneficial.
The central committee of main opposition Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) completed its meeting on Saturday evening, after adopting the proposal by President Alexis Tsipras which included, among others, a policy of forming alliances.
The Leftist Platform, which during the meeting had voiced many objections for the participation of several independent MPs or former PASOK officials, didn’t participate in the final vote.
The issue of finalising the list of candidates to be included in the party’s tickets is expected to be completed over the next three days with a few frictions but without serious problems, party sources said, adding that a middle ground will be achieved and SYRIZA will come out of this process stronger.
Former Prime Minister George Papandreou launched his new party on Saturday, as current Deputy Prime Minister and PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos insisted that his party would play a pivotal role in political developments after the January 25 elections.
Papandreou said the his party would be called the Movement of Democratic Socialists. If the former PASOK leader’s new grouping is able to gain more than 3 percent in the polls in three weeks’ time, he might gain enough seats in Parliament to have a say in the formation of the next government. Crucially, the new party could also have an impact on how PASOK performs.
PASOK MP Filippos Sachinidis, who served as deputy finance minister in Papandreou’s first government, and Giorgos Petalotis, a previous government spokesman, will act as the new party’s media representatives. Other PASOK officials that will support the party are former parliamentary speaker Filippos Petsalnikos and former minister Dimitris Reppas. Thanos Moraitis, Sokratis Xynidis and Simos Kedikoglou are also among the lawmakers that are making the move from PASOK to the Movement of Democratic Socialists. Papandreou’s brother, Nikos, has a key role among the ex-premier’s team of advisers.
The party’s logo is a red rose with a green leaf – a reference to the symbol used by European social democrats and the colors of PASOK, which was founded by Papandreou’s father, Andreas. Sources said that given the time constraints until the January 25 ballot, any candidates standing for election with the new party would have to fund themselves.
The main aim of PASOK is to receive the third mandate to form a government and be a catalyst for developments, the party’s leader Evangelos Venizelos said on Saturday, speaking at a meeting with party secretaries at a central hotel in Athens.
“PASOK is the guardian of the country’s national strategy,” Venizelos, who is also Government Vice-President and Foreign Minister said, noting that PASOK is not “hooked” on power.
“We have an obligation to deliver the country intact on the day of the elections and we will, there will be a safe framework. For the day after the elections, the responsibility lies with the people who have the power to determine their fate,” he said, adding that this is “the moment of truth, you have to prove everything you say and that’s where we’ll get to know each other again.”
The head of PASOK noted that his party is heading towards elections with a very clear political position which is real and reality is difficult. “But there is no other way,” he said and the party will analyse all those details next Saturday, when it will present its programme.
Commenting on former premier and leader of PASOK George Papandreou to form a new party, Venizelos said: “PASOK is asked to give a battle in tough conditions because, apart from everything else, we have the decision of Mr Papandreou to form his own private party, something which had been decided for some time and there was no need to keep up appearances.”
Venizelos said it was pointless trying to present proposals, show good will, create unity and keep everyone in the ballot, under the emblem and name of PASOK.
The Communist Party of Greece (KKE) on Friday urged the government to find a solution on the issue of new voters – those who were born from 01/01/1997 until 21/12/1997 – who are currently left out of electoral registers.
“The government must immediately find a solution to the problem that has risen with the vote of new voters and concerns about 100,000 youngsters, who, as things stand today, are excluded from the register,” the Communist Party said in a statement, adding that the solution is to either amend the relevant decrees or by following the procedure for voters who have been left out.
“At any case, the right to vote of young people should be ensured,” the party added.
The movement Europe-Ecology announced at a press conference on Friday it will cooperate with To Potami party in the upcoming general elections saying it is very difficult for a Green party to act independently and that it’s important to form alliances.
“We don’t choose the safety of isolation. We seek alliances and cooperations in order to promote innovative solutions for the most important problems like exiting the crisis and climate change,” Konstantinos Katopis, member of the movement’s governing committee said.
On his side, the head of To Potami, Stavros Theodorakis, said the party’s insistence on bringing forward issues like the illegal dumps, the plastic garbage found in the sea and climate change is what brought the two sides closer.
Independent Greeks (ANEL) leader Panos Kammenos will start campaigning for the January 25 national elections at the southern Aegean island of Crete on Sunday with a visit to the city of Chania.
Meanwhile, Kammenos chaired a meeting of the committee drawing up the party lists on Friday sources told ANA-MPA that the party members interested in running on the ANEL ticket “are 60 pct more than those who ran in the 2012 elections.”