Tuesday 10 December 2019

Greek voters urgerd to 'send message to Europe'

Helena Smith in Athens

Standing on the podium in his trademark open-neck shirt and dark suit, Alexis Tsipras clenched his fist and bellowed at the crowd.

"For two years they have taken decisions without asking us," the leftist leader boomed. "The Greek people didn't give them the mandate to take those decisions. The time has come to return democracy to the place where it was born."

Amid a sea of flags, horns and anti-austerity slogans, the Athens crowd roared its approval.

Today, when the country holds general elections, Mr Tsipras says Greeks will send "a message", not only to their own political elite but to "the peoples and governments of Europe".

"Merkel should worry and Europe should hope in us," he said. "If the politics of austerity continue, Europe is in big danger of breaking up."

Many Greeks, it seems, would agree. In the countdown to the ballot, no other party appears as poised for success as Syriza, the array of radical left and green groups lead by Mr Tsipras.

Even before a ban on surveys was enforced two weeks ago, Syriza was on course to double the 4.6 per cent it won at the last general elections in 2009.

Syriza makes no secret of the fact that it is counting on anger -- and fear. More than two years after Europe's debt crisis erupted in Athens, Greeks want to "punish" a political establishment widely associated with the country's near economic collapse.

Backing for New Democracy and Pasok, the two main parties, which have alternated in power for the past four decades, has dropped precipitously.

© Observer

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