Greek elections: Party leaders make final calls for votes
GREEK Prime Minister Antonis Samaras has made a final appeal to voters ahead of Sunday’s general election, with his party battling the left-wing Syriza.
Mr Samaras said that despite years of austerity, the country was showing signs of recovery.
Meanwhile, Syriza leader Alexis Tsipras said his party would restore “dignity” to Greece.
He wants to renegotiate Greece’s debt and end the austerity measures imposed by an international bailout.
Greece has endured deep budget cuts tied to its massive bailout from the so-called troika – the EU, International Monetary Fund (IMF) and European Central Bank (ECB).
The possibility of a Syriza victory in Sunday’s vote has sparked fears that Greece could default on its debt and exit from the euro.
In a final, combative campaign rally, Mr Samaras told supporters of his conservative New Democracy party he had worked “day and night” to keep the country standing.
Syriza, he argued, could force the country from the Euro by its policies, serving what he called the “drachma lobby”, a reference to the former Greek currency.
He also warned that Greece could miss out on a massive programme of quantitative easing unveiled by the ECB.
Mr Tsipras said he hoped to work out a “mutually acceptable solution” with Greece’s creditors by the time the country is eligible for support in July.
At a campaign rally on Thursday, he said an end to “national humiliation” was near, repeating a promise to have half of Greece’s international debt written off when the current bailout deal ends.
Syriza has moderated its stance since the peak of the eurozone crisis, and says it wants Greece to stay in the euro.
But critics say that what the party is advocating may mean Greece will be forced to leave the eurozone whether it wants to or not.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has urged the country to remain part of the eurozone.
“At the heart of our principles lies solidarity,” she said. “I want Greece, despite the difficulties, to remain part of our story.”
Germany is seen in Greece as taking the hardest line on its debt.
Earlier this month, a spokesman for Mrs Merkel said Germany expected Greece to uphold the terms of its international bailout agreement.
Average wage is €600 (£450: $690) a month
Unemployment is at 25%, with youth unemployment almost 60%
Economy has shrunk by 25% since the start of the eurozone crisis
Country’s debt is 175% of GDP
Borrowed €240bn (£188bn) from the EU, the ECB and the IMF.