Gloves off for ND and SYRIZA in final strait

Officials of conservative New Democracy and leftist SYRIZA, which have been neck and neck in opinion polls, continued to clash Mondayy over which party can best negotiate Greece?s continued membership of the eurozone while SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras fired a broadside at ND leader Antonis Samaras, claiming that the leftist party has a deeper appreciation of public concerns regarding rising crime and illegal immigration.

The SYRIZA leader criticized Samaras?s visit on Friday to the run-down central Athens neighborhood of Aghios Panteleimonas, which suspected members of extreme-right party Golden Dawn have been patrolling in recent years in a bid to capitalize on tensions between locals and a rising population of immigrants. Tsipras remarked that he lived in a working-class neighborhood, unlike Samaras, and did not need to visit one to understand people?s concerns. He also visited the police headquarters in Athens Monday, a few days after a similar visit by Samaras.

Sources in New Democracy said the party planned to up the ante vis-a-vis the leftists, not only on the issue of illegal immigration and crime but also on the economy, in a bid to expose weaknesses in SYRIZA?s policy program. According to sources, the strategy of highlighting the possible risks a leftist government would bring has been effective.

In a related development, chief first instance prosecutor Eleni Raikou ordered an investigation into comments made by leftist Ifikratis Amyras urging Greeks to launch an ?armed struggle? against the government and foreign creditors. Speaking to Skai TV, Amyras said he was not a member of SYRIZA and that his bid to become a parliamentary candidate had been rejected by SYRIZA. Amyras?s role was questioned by ND over the weekend.

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