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Greek Leftists Lead Poll; Vow to Kill Bailout, Nationalize Banks

"The time of the Left has come"

- Common Dreams staff

As the June 16 elections in Greece near, the final public polls show that the leftist Syriza party continues to build on it's strong showing in the May 6th elections. Syriza maintains a clear lead over second place New Democracy party: 31.5% to 26.5%. (Public Issue poll for the Kathimerini newspaper)

Head of Greece's leftist SYRIZA party Alexis Tsipras smiles after presenting his party's economic program ahead of the June 17 poll in Athens June 1, 2012. Tsipras said on Friday that he would keep strategic companies under state control and freeze wage and pension cuts demanded by lenders if he won this month's election. (REUTERS/Panayiotis Tzamaros) Greek election law bans the publication of any new polls in the 2 weeks before an election. The ban enters into force on Saturday.

The number of people who would vote for Syriza continues to grow. In the May 6th elections Syriza received 16.7% of the vote. Now all opinion polls consistently show Syriza's support between 25% and 31.5%.

Also Friday, Syriza leader Alexis Tsipras laid out his party's economic program.  Tsipras said that a Syriza-led government would reject the terms of Greece’s bailout, repeal some of the measures that have been passed and increase public spending.

"The first act of a government of the left, as soon as the new Parliament is sworn in, will be a cancellation of the bailout and its implementation laws," Tsipras said.

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Athen's newspaper Kathimerini reports:

Going into Final Stretch, SYRIZA Builds Poll Lead

In the last opinion poll to be published by Kathimerini before the June 17 elections, leftist SYRIZA maintains a clear lead over New Democracy, although short of enough support for a clear parliamentary majority.

According to the Public Issue survey, SYRIZA garners 31.5 percent of the vote, 1.5 more than just a week ago. Support for New Democracy is largely unchanged at 25.5. PASOK has lost 2 percent and falls to 13.5. It is followed by Democratic Left (DIMAR) on 7.5 percent and the weakening Independent Greeks on 5.5. The Communist Party (KKE) also has 5.5 percent, while the neo-Nazi Chrysi Avgi (Golden Dawn) has fallen to 4.5 percent. The liberal alliance of Dimiourgia Xana (Recreate Greece) and Drasi attracts 2.5 percent.

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Agence France Presse reports:

ATHENS — Greece's radical leftist party Syriza laid out Friday a manifesto likely to leave the country's eurozone future hanging by a thread if it wins elections later this month.

Tsipras promised to boost the minimum wage, hike taxes on the rich and freeze a major privatization drive designed to raise $24.2 billion, a key condition of its bailout deal. He also pledged to "nationalize and socialize" Greek banks.A bailout deal with the EU and IMF in return for painful austerity cuts "is an automatic pilot to utter disaster," Syriza leader Alexis Tsipras said, vowing if elected to scrap the accord and to freeze repayments on Greece's debt mountain.

"We ask for the vote of the Greek people in order to annul it" so that it can be renegotiated, the 37-year-old told a packed auditorium in a run-down Athens neighborhood.

Supporters interrupted him, chanting: "The time of the Left has come."

Syriza surprised Europe on May 6 by placing second in an inconclusive election that saw voters fed up with salary and pension cuts shift their loyalties to radical parties. [...]

Tsipras promised to boost the minimum wage, hike taxes on the rich and freeze a major privatization drive designed to raise $24.2 billion, a key condition of its bailout deal.

He also pledged to "nationalize and socialize" Greek banks that draw on European support funds to recapitalize themselves after a landmark state debt cut brokered by the previous government in March.

This would evidently include Greece's top four lenders, which received 18 billion euros from the European Financial Stability Fund (Ehttp://www.commondreams.org/node/add/headlineFSF) this week.

Tsipras insists Greece can still stay in the eurozone and draw on European support funds, while arguing Friday that the bailout deal itself "is tantamount to returning to the drachma" because of its effects on the economy.

He likened the loan agreement to a "deadly medicine" which has caused a "tragedy" in Greece, where more than a million people are jobless and suicides are mounting in an economy now in its fifth year of recession.

"You don't save a patient's life by changing the dosage of a deadly medicine. You need to change the medicine itself," Tsipras said.

He said his government would also "seek a new renegotiation of the debt at European level, aiming to drastically reduce it, or a debt moratorium and a suspension of interest payments until conditions for the stabilization and recovery of the economy are created."

On foreign policy, the leftists plan a withdrawal from NATO operations, starting with Greece's mission to Afghanistan, and a future "disengagement" from the alliance altogether.

They also want to pursue closer relations with Russia and Latin America and an arms moratorium with historic arch rival Turkey.

But they climbed down from an earlier pledge to shut down NATO bases in Greece.

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