NEWS

Election campaigning heats up in Greece

With just a week to go before local authority elections and two weeks before elections for the European Parliament, party leaders ratcheted up their campaigning over the weekend as new opinion polls put New Democracy, which leads the ruling coalition, and the left-wing opposition SYRIZA neck and neck.

Prime Minister Antonis Samaras and his coalition partner, PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos, both visited central Greece – the former Tripoli and the latter Larissa. SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras continued to juggle election campaigning at home with his bid for the European Commission presidency during a visit to Berlin on Saturday where he presented the dilemma of “the left or Merkel” again, casting the German Chancellor Angela Merkel as the champion of austerity.

Meanwhile veteran leftist Manolis Glezos, one of SYRIZA’s Euro MP candidates, made waves by suggesting that the leftists could seize bank account deposits in excess of 100,000 euros if they came to power.

As Samaras continued his efforts to present ND as a party guaranteeing stability but also crucial reforms, Venizelos insisted that the endurance of the coalition was dependent on the PASOK-backed center-left alliance Elia achieving a good showing in the polls. Without PASOK’s MPs “there is no government, there is no stability, there is no prospect for the nation,” Venizelos said in a televised press conference on Saturday after rebuffing speculation about his stance signaling the possible withdrawal of PASOK from the coalition.

Opinion polls continued to suggest that the race between ND and SYRIZA was too close to call with leftists leading ND by 18.5 percent to 18 percent, according to a survey by Efimerida ton Syntakton daily while another poll, in the weekly Paraskinio, put ND at 22.5 percent, just ahead of SYRIZA with 21.1 percent. The Paraskinio poll showed Elia edging up to 7 percent, just behind newcomer To Potami with 7.7 percent and neofascist Golden Dawn at 6.4 percent. The Efimerida ton Syntakton poll put To Potami at 5.5 percent with Elia on 4.5 percent and GD with 3.5 percent. The portion of undecided voters was 16 percent.

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