Athens.- Party leaders are intensifying their election campaigns in light of the June 17 general elections. In this framework, New Democracy party leader Antonis Samaras visited the island of Rhodes for contacts with party officials and local agency representatives. Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) leader Alexis Tsipras addressed a party rally in the city of Agrinio. PASOK party leader Evangelos Venizelos addressed a rally in the city of Livadia earlier on Saturday, while in the evening he has spoken in Halkida. Lastly, Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) leader George Karatzaferis visited the northern city of Thessaloniki.
Opinion polls show a tough battle between right wing New Democracy and leftist SYRIZA for the first place and the 50 seat bonus the leading party receives.
An opinion poll by Metron Analysis carried out for the ANT1 private television channel and presented in its main news bulletin on Friday shows the New Democracy (ND) party leading in respondents’ preferences.
According to the poll, ND leads with 22.7 percent, followed by the Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) with 22, PASOK 11.2, Independent Greeks 5.7, Communist Party of Greece (KKE) 4.4, Golden Dawn (Chryssi Avghi) 3.9 and Democratic Left 6.7.
According to the opinion poll conducted by Marc, ND garners 26 pct of voters’ preferences, followed by SYRIZA with 24.3 pct. PASOK is at 12.5 pct, the Independent Greeks 6.3 pct, followed by the Communist Party (KKE) 5.7 pct, Democratic Left (DIM.AR) 5.3 pct, Chryssi Avgi (Golden Dawn party) 4.2 pct, Dimiourgia Xana 2.5 pct, Ecologists-Greens and Popular Orthodox Rally (LA.O.S) each get 1 pct.
Based on the unclear vote, ND receives 28.8 pct (127 seats), SYRIZA 27 pct (72 seats), PASOK 13.9 pct (37 seats), Independent Greeks 7 pct (19 seats), KKE 6.3 pct (17 seats), DIM.AR 5.9 pct (16 seats), and Chryssi Avgi 4.6 pct (12 seats).
An opinion poll carried out by Alco and publicised in the newsit website gives the New Democracy (ND) party a 2.3 percent lead in respondents’ preferences.
According to the poll, ND is ahead with 25 percent and is followed by the Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) with 22.7, PASOK 12.5, Independent Greeks 6.5, Democratic Left 5.2, the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) 5, Golden Dawn (Chryssi Avghi) 4.5, Dimiourgia Xana 2.2, Ecologists 1.4 and Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) 1 percent.
A Public Issue survey published yesterday showed SYRIZA leading on 31.5 percent with New Democracy trailing in second on 25.5 percent. This would not give the leftists a clear majority and they might need to work with PASOK or Democratic Left.
New Democracy leader launched a fresh attack on SYRIZA head Alexis Tsipras from Rhodes on Saturday, on the day that anti-bailout party Independent Greeks published a letter they say Samaras sent to the European Central Bank in February pledging to implement the bailout agreement without a single alteration or exception.
“It does not constitute hope for people if you raise taxes, drive investment away, attacking your national champions, Tourism and Shipping, and lower the Greek flag from hundreds of ships with your announcements,” said Samaras at an election rally on the island of Rhodes. “That is decadence,” he said, in a clear reference to Tsipras.
“What does constitute hope is to create new jobs and to make the most of this country’s strong points,” he added.
Independent Greeks published a letter Samaras is supposed to have sent Mario Draghi, the governor of the ECB on February 15, committing himself to the full implementation of the painful measures he was supposed to be objecting to at the time.
“When was it that Mr Samaras lied? Was it on the day before yesterday when he announced his 18 measures, or on February 15, when he sent his letter with his signature?” said the party in its Saturday statement.
Outlining his party’s economic program on Friday, leftist leader Alexis Tsipras said that a SYRIZA-led government would reject the terms of Greece’s bailout, repeal some of the measures that have been passed and increase public spending, but his proposals were criticized by potential coalition partners.
“Greeks only have one real choice: the [European Union-International Monetary Fund] memorandum or SYRIZA,” Tsipras told a packed room of party supporters. He insisted that plans for renegotiating the loan deal with Greece’s lenders, as has been suggested by New Democracy and PASOK, are dead in the water.
Tsipras said a SYRIZA government would immediately reject the memorandum on coming to power and ask for Greece’s debt to be restructured or for a moratorium on repayments. It would then repeal a reduction to the minimum wage and extend unemployment benefit to two years. It would also repeal recent labor market reforms limiting collective contracts.
Tsipras set out how his government would stabilize the economy. He said public spending would be set at between 43 and 46 percent of GDP, rather than under 36 percent as agreed in the memorandum. The SYRIZA leader said he would raise revenues by cutting down on tax evasion, waste and corruption and forming an assets register for all Greeks at home and abroad. The wealthy would pay more under a new tax system, he said.
Concerning illegal migration, he said SYRIZA would seek to negotiate a new policy framework with substantive EU support and solidarity, so that the greater bulk of migrants now trapped in Greece receiving travel documents to go to central and northern Europe to find jobs.
Finally, he promised to clean up the country’s political life, ending a culture of client politics and scrapping current laws that granted MPs and politicians virtual impunity.
On foreign policy issues, finally, SYRIZA’s leader said that improving relations with Turkey was a top priority since both sides had paid dearly for the ‘cold war’ in the Aegean but he also stressed that “it takes two to make peace”.
“Our country and also Cyprus have supported and still support Turkey’s European prospects. But we have not seen any decisive step from the other side toward correcting the great injustices. We have not even seen any positive step toward a solution of the Cyprus issue,” he noted.
On the dispute over the name of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), he said SYRIZA supported efforts for a mutually acceptable solution based on a composite name with a geographic determinant through the process underway at the United Nations.
Summing up, Tsipras stressed that SYRIZA was not claiming that “there is money”, while Greek people were not beggars but only wanted a chance to work to cover their needs.
“We assure them that the funds can be found without the harsh cuts of the Memorandum. It is a policy platform that voters will be asked to approve in the last, crucial and decisive referendum of June 17 for the Memorandum,” he said.
PASOK party leader Evangelos Venizelos, addressing a rally in the city of Livadia, stressed that “it is evident to me with the presentation of the programmes of New Democracy and SYRIZA (the Radical Left Coalition) yesterday and the day before yesterday that the country is being led to division and the lack of governance,” adding that “this false setting will not provide a government on June 18.”
Venizelos further said that “instead of us getting hope and prospects we are in danger of entering a new crisis, the crisis of our relations with the EU.”
The PASOK leader went on to say that in the meantime, the country’s economic state is worsening on a daily basis due to the political uncertainty and the lack of governance, mentioning the examples of banks, tourism and energy and that “the pylon of DEH (the Public Power Corporation) is being shaken financially.”
PASOK party leader Evangelos Venizelos, speaking to Real news, said that “PASOK will not function as the supplement of a majority,” while stressing that there can be no government without PASOK since it proposes an integrated and substantiated strategy.
Communist Party of Greece (KKE) Secretary General Aleka Papariga, addressing a press conference in the city of Karditsa in central Greece on Friday, stressed that the position of staying in the EU at all cost has already ruined thousands of farmers.
“Before the May 6 elections it appeared that there is a choir of many parties and every party sang with its own voice. And we had our special voice at the time. Now that a few days separate us from the fresh elections, we ascertain that the choir is one voice and the slogan is one. Staying in the EU at all cost and all the parties have joined this position with the exception of KKE. And this is evident absolutely. The red line is staying in the EU at all cost.”
Papariga added that the prefecture of Karditsa, one of the country’s exclusive agricultural prefectures, must reject this position of being in the EU at all cost and stressed that the country’s farmers were the first to be hit, initially with the country’s accession to the EEC and then the EU.
The proposals unveiled by the Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) on Friday will lead Greece outside the eurozone, the Democratic Left party commented in an announcement later the same day.
SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras was proposing that it first unilaterally denounce the Memorandum and then to propose dialogue with the European Union, DEM.AR noted.
The party said that its own proposals were precisely the opposite, starting within the euro and gradually disengaging from the Memorandum.
“SYRIZA’s proposal essentially opens the door for the return of the drachma. And the great contradiction: while its proposals lead to a vacuum, at the same time it wants the funding from the loan agreement to promise handouts. Our people cannot tolerate new delusions that lead to defeats. With their vote they must utter a strong no to isolationism and populism. A strong yes and a mandate for a solution to the responsible Left,” DEM.AR’s announcement said.
Police detained six people, including the daughter of Chrysi Avgi (Golden Dawn) party leader Nikos Michaloliakos, just before midnight on Friday for their alleged involvement in an attack on a man who ended up in hospital.
The six people participated in a motorbike protest by Chrysi Avgi that started from Piraeus and ended up in Athens.
They then allegedly attacked a foreign employee at a kebab shop at Pireos Street in Athens.
The injured man was taken by ambulance to hospital.