Greece: Elections - Europe trembles as Greeks decide

Neck and neck between Syriza (left) and Nea Dimokratia (right)

15 June, 19:48

A man holding a newspaper walks past pre-election posters in Athens A man holding a newspaper walks past pre-election posters in Athens

(ANSAmed) - ATHENS - Once again, in just over a month, decision time has come to Athens. This Sunday, around 9.7 million Greeks will decide which road their country should embark upon. To some extent, they are also deciding for the whole of the Euro Zone.

From the Greek result much of the well-being of the single currency over the coming months will depend: a victory for those parties that intend to fulfil the undertakings made with the international community - even with some toning down - or a victory for Syriza, the radical left party that wants to delete, or at least re-write, the so-called Memorandum.

The photo finish being predicted by some unofficial polls will be between Nea Dimokratia, the centre-right grouping of Antonis Samaras, and Syriza, led by the rising star of Greek politics, 37-year-old Alexis Tsipras. Despite their support for the technocrat government of Lucas Papademos, the conservatives are hoping for a clear victory that will enable them to re-negotiate the most unpopular parts of the Memorandum signed by the Papademos government: such as the cuts to minimum wages in the private sector, pension cuts, the end of collective wage bargaining. Their hopes come from what has been happening in Spain, a country that has received support without having to impose draconian austerity measures.

At the other end of the political spectrum is Syriza, seen as the nemesis by international financial circles and by many European governments. Although he has moderated his language over the latter stages of campaigning, Mr Tsipras basically wants to scrap the Memorandum and replace it with a national growth and development plan. This strategy would cancel most of the austerity measures. It is a plan that appears to ignore the emptiness of the nation's coffers. Many fear that if Europe were to suspend payments of the loan guaranteed by the Memorandum, these coffers would empty out completely, making it impossible to pay public-sector wages and pensions. This would lead to a paralysis of public services and an explosion of social tensions. In this scenario, Greece would be bankrupt and would face exit from the euro.

But in his last election rally, Mr Tsipras promised that the country would remain "in Europe and in the euro". Just as on the eve of the inconclusive poll on May 6, uncertainty is the order of the day. Come what may, and international pressures to one side, Greece will decide its own fate, while Europe looks on nervously.(ANSAmed).


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