Greece prepares to head to the polls

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Greek Opposition leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis appeared confident of victory in Sunday’s snap election during a rally in central Athens on Thursday evening, saying his New Democracy party is “more united and rejuvenated than ever before”.

Speaking to an enthusiastic crowd in the downtown district of Thiseio with the Parthenon as a backdrop, the 51-year-old vowed to “resurrect” the middle class that has been “destroyed” by the leftists of governing SYRIZA.

Mitsotakis, is considered a favorite for next Sunday’s election with polls giving him a comfortable majority by the latest public opinion polls, addressed public safety concerns by pledging to review a law aimed at decongesting Greece’s prisons that has resulted in dozens of hardened criminals being granted early release, as well as launching a wider crackdown on crime.

New Democracy conservative party leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis addresses supporters during the pre election rally of the party in Athens
New Democracy conservative party leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis EPA-EFE/ORESTIS PANAGIOTOU

Mitsotakis and Alexis Tsipras, the Prime Minister and leader of SYRIZA, Thursday evening made their final pitch to voters before the vote on Sunday.

This election is widely seen as a race for the votes of the middle class — lawyers, doctors, mechanics, skilled employees, and public servants — many of whom say they’ve been bearing the burden of the economic crisis with no help from SYRIZA.

Tsipras, who is being punished for the country’s continued economic woes, also held a rally on Thursday evening in which he defended his track record, including the successful exit from the three successive bailout programmes.

“We increased the minimum wage by 11% as soon as we were freed from the memoranda,” he said, adding: “We pledged a 15% increase over the next two years, so that wages could at least reach the pre-crisis levels.”

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras pre-election rally in Athens
Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras. EPA-EFE/SIMELA PANTZARTZI

The working class, upon whom SYRIZA relied heavily during the 2012 and 2015 elections, also appeared to have broadly turned its back on the ruling party as it failed to mitigate the effects of the labour market deregulation. The steady decrease in the unemployment rate and the increase to the monthly minimum wage to €650, seem to not have been enough.

 

Via FT/ Euronews/ Ekathimerini

 

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