Samaras to underline risks of leftist government, calls ECB chief on banks

With just a few days to go before critical snap elections, the two main parties are battling for undecided voters and the center ground, with Prime Minister Antonis Samaras expected to emphasize the risks of a SYRIZA government in campaign speeches Wednesday.

Meanwhile, ahead of a crucial European Central Bank meeting where a bond-buying program and emergency liquidity assistance (ELA) for banks are to be discussed, Samaras said he had spoken with ECB President Mario Draghi. “My chief concern is the bolstering of the banking system and of the economy,” Samaras said, referring to the request by Greece’s systemic banks to be granted ELA access.

Following appearances in eastern Attica and the southern coastal suburbs of Athens Tuesday, Samaras is due in Thessaloniki Wednesday, where he is to stress the pivotal nature of the pending elections for the country’s course in Europe.

The remainder of New Democracy’s campaign is to focus on the “Samaras versus Tsipras dilemma,” sources indicated Tuesday, referring to SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras. ND party secretary Andreas Papamimikos Tuesday appealed to “people of the reformist center” who, he said, “must realize that there is no leeway for third or neutral votes.” “These elections are all about who is going to come first,” he said.

Samaras sought again to cast ND, and himself, as the guarantors of stability. “I want my fellow citizens who put their faith in me in the hard times over the past two-and-a-half years to be certain that today, but also on January 26, we will do everything that is necessary for the country,” he said.

Samaras’s call for “a serious approach from all sides” came as European officials continued to underline the risks ahead. German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble, speaking during an official visit to India, stressed that the so-called troika would remain in all countries which have signed loan programs with international creditors. His comments came amid a debate about whether the structure of the troika should be modified but also as SYRIZA insists that it will seek a renegotiation of the tough terms of Greece’s memorandum.