Greece: European elections campaign underway,Samaras attacks

Premier accuses radical left of being anti-European

13 January, 13:36

    (by Demetrio Manolistakis) (ANSAmed) ATHENS, JANUARY 13 - Perhaps Antonis Samaras, the Greek prime minister and leader of conservative party Nea Dimokratia, could not have chosen a better time to open - though informally - the electoral campaign ahead of European and local elections in May.

    He did it on the day Greece took over the rotating European Union presidency at a time when attention is on the country's economic situation. The dilemma of elections in May, according to Nea Dimokratia's leader, will not be on the memorandum anymore - as occurred in national elections in 2012 - but on the country's permanence within the Union.

    In upcoming European elections, Samaras said, 'Greek citizens will have to choose whether they want Europe or not'.

    Moreover the premier also placed far-left Syriza - the main opposition party in Greece - among anti-European, anti-Western and anti-Nato forces. And he did all this avoiding to cite the name of party leader Alexis Tsipras yet deploring the fact that he deserted the ceremony of inauguration of the Greek semester, a clear sign, according to Samaras, of deep anti-Europeanism. All these are signs of a polarization which is likely to deepen as elections get closer. Surveys carried out so far leave few doubts; the elections will be a match between Nea Dimokratia and Syriza which makes it impossible to forecast political developments in Greece.

    Meanwhile the premier and his ministers insist saying that political elections will take place at the end of the legislature which expires in 2016. In a 'normal' country, this would be normal but things in Greece are different today. Here the political agenda in the immediate future will be mostly determined by external factors rather than the government including a small parliamentary majority, a comeback of terrorism, financial scandals unveiled every day and the growing popularity, according to polls, of neo-Nazi party Chrysi Avgi (Golden Dawn). All this without mentioning the troika (EU, ECB and IMF) which will soon return to Athens to resume inspections on the state of the country's recovery programme.

    All these factors can create at any time an accident and don't leave room for forecasts. In other words the Greek political system, which is mostly responsible for the economic crisis gripping the country, remains extremely 'fluid'. Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras told the Financial Times in an interview that a majority of 153 lawmakers out of 300 limits the government's freedom of choice. The parliamentary majority, Stournaras told the paper, is too limited and therefore the cabinet needs to be cautious. The minister added that some things can be done and others can't with such a small margin.

    Moreover, terrorism is once again a concern for the Greek government. Too many signs are showing that groups are trying to destabilize the country. Greek anti-terror analysts appear convinced that the recent jailbreak by Christodoulos Xiros, 55, who was serving six life sentences plus 25 years for belonging to violent terror group '17 November', is a sign that a network is being created by old and new terrorists.

    According to experts, in the past few months a 'strange alliance' has been created between old-generation terrorists and new urban militants in which regular convicts currently detained also play a role.

    All this is taking place amid the first important signs of a slow economic recovery including a primary budget surplus in 2013, which has nevertheless to be confirmed by April by Eurostat, and Stournaras' announcement that Greece could return on financial markets by the end of 2014 when it will reportedly place five-year bonds worth 1.5 or 2 billion euros on the market. (ANSAmed)
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