ATHENS – Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras has his eyes set on undecideds and those uncertain of what would happen if the poll-leading major opposition Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) wins the critical Jan. 25 elections.
Coming down the stretch, Samaras – whose New Democracy Conservatives are slightly behind in the polls – is expected to also make a plea that voting for SYRIZA would undo several years of reforms, many of which are unfinished, and halt a looming recovery from a crushing economic crisis.
Sources told Kathimerini that the conservatives still believe they can gain votes, particularly from Greeks intending to back moderate parties such as To Potami or the PASOK Socialists who are Samaras’ coalition partner, by highlighting the dangers that a SYRIZA win could pose.
Samaras is all over TV, in ads and interviews, focusing on contradictory statements by SYRIZA officials as Leftist leader Alexis Tsipras hopes to come to power, if he wins and can form a coalition as surveys show neither party could win enough of the vote to control Parliament.
“SYRIZA’s policies will obliterate the middle class,” he said in an interview with Ta Nea, withouth mentioning the harsh austerity measures he imposed on orders of international lenders had already done so.
After implementing big pay cuts, tax hikes, slashed pensions and worker firings, he now said he would cut taxes, including a reduction in the corporate rate from 25 percent to 15 percent.
“We are taking it step by step, without slipping back into public deficits again,” said Samaras. “Whoever tries to do this in one go without stopping to take stock will create deficits and will end up having to impose higher taxes.”
Samaras is expected to focus mostly on Attica in the final stages of the campaign after having toured much of Greece during the previous days. New Democracy believes that there are votes to be won in the country’s most populous voting districts in Athens and Piraeus.
He is expected to hold a rally in Thessaloniki on Jan. 21 before returning to Athens for his final public appearance before the elections.
Writing in Sunday’s Kathimerini, Samaras dismissed SYRIZA’s demands that the Eurozone forgive a big chunk of Greece’s debt – a plan he considered – and argued that it would be enough now just to get a longer time to repay and lower interest rates, both of which he’d already received from the Troika of the European Union-International Monetary Fund-European Central Bank (EU-IMF-ECB) that put up 240 billion euros ($306 billion) in two bailouts.
“We will achieve this based on the [Eurogroup] agreement of November 2012, without clashing with anyone,” wrote the premier, referring to the Troika pledge for debt relief once Greece reached a primary surplus, which it did last year.
“The only thing we need to do is banish the political uncertainty that has spooked the markets over the last few months. SYRIZA is prolonging this uncertainty.”