Parties ramp up campaigns in final strait

A week before general elections that are expected to be the most hotly contested in decades, political party leaders ratcheted up their campaigns over the weekend in a bid to secure the votes of a significant number of disillusioned supporters and undecided voters.

In a fiery speech in the Cretan port of Hania, the leader of conservative New Democracy, Antonis Samaras, told a crowd of supporters that his party was determined to break from dead-end policies, suggesting that he would end the austerity being imposed by the country?s foreign creditors. ?I promise you that we will overhaul disastrous policies that have brought us to this point,? Samaras said. The ND leader also reiterated his determination to rule independently although opinion polls have shown this to be highly unlikely.

Speaking in the central town of Larissa on Sunday, PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos accused Samaras of ?arrogance,? adding that the socialists would not work with other parties unconditionally. ?Anyone who thinks this is sorely mistaken,? he said. The socialist leader also pledged to impose no new taxes in June when officials representing the country?s creditors are to return to Athens to discuss how to raise 11 billion euros in revenues for 2013 and 2014.

The smaller parties also ramped up their campaign efforts.

The head of the Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA), Alexis Tsipras, told a press conference at Zappeio Hall that a left-wing government was a real possibility and warned against support for the two main parties, claiming that they are inextricably linked and that voting for one means backing the other. ?The second comes free, like with pizzas,? he said.

The head of the nationalist Independent Greeks, Panos Kammenos, struck a similar tone, claiming that ND and PASOK were ?the same party.?

Menwhile, Communist Party (KKE) leader Aleka Papariga warned of new measures after the polls, irrespective of who wins.?The next government will be dangerous, or it will be useless,? she said.

Separately, the office of Prime Minister Lucas Papademos issued a statement Sunday rebuffing press reports claiming that he had benefited from tax-free wages while vice president of the European Central Bank from 2002 to 2010.