German Newspaper's Election Endorsement Sparks Greek Uproar

Head of Greece's anti-bailout SYRIZA party Alexis Tsipras casts his shadow while waving to supporters during a pre-election rally in Athens June 14, 2012. Tsipras promised on Thursday to rip up the conditions attached to the international bailout agreement but keep Greece in the euro zone after an election on Sunday that could decide the fate of the single currency. The writing on the wall reads "We open the road to hope" (L) and "SYRIZA overthrow in Greece, change in Europe". (REUTERS/Yannis Behrakis)

German Newspaper's Election Endorsement Sparks Greek Uproar

SZRIZA: "We open the road to hope"

Greek parties have reacted furiously to a front-page editorial by a leading German newspaper urging Greeks to vote for the pro-bailout conservative New Democracy Party in Sunday's elections.

The anti-bailout SYRIZA party condemned the German Financial Times' editorial as "a crude and unprecedented intervention, which offends national dignity and tries to undermine democracy."

Greeks are angry after two years of austerity and punished mainstream politicians in an inconclusive election on May 6 that catapulted the SYRIZA party to a surprise second place, turning the surging leftists into serious contenders in Sunday's repeat vote.

The New Democracy was due to hold its final campaign rally on Friday, while Syriza, in its final rally on Thursday, promised to rip up the conditions attached to the bailout agreement.

"On Monday, the bailout will be history. Monday will be a new era of growth, social, solidarity. Together, we will begin to change the country," said Alex Tsipras, the leader of Syriza.

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Agence France Pressereports:

ATHENS -- Greek parties reacted with outrage on Friday after the German edition of the Financial Times made a front-page call on Greeks to vote for the New Democracy conservatives in the upcoming election.

"Dear Greeks, create clear political conditions. Vote courageously for reforms instead of angrily against the necessary, painful structural changes," read the Financial Times Deutschland's editorial, published in Greek and German.

"Your country will only be able to keep the euro with parties that accept the conditions of the international creditors," the daily said, adding: "Resist the demagoguery of Alexis Tsipras and his (radical-left party) Syriza."

It endorsed the New Democracy party led by 61-year-old Antonis Samaras.

Syriza condemned the editorial as "a crude and unprecedented intervention, which offends national dignity and tries to undermine democracy."

Syriza condemned the editorial as "a crude and unprecedented intervention, which offends national dignity and tries to undermine democracy."The only thing left now is for German Chancellor Angela Merkel to "come and hand out ballots for the right," said top Syriza official Dimitris Papadimoulis.

New Democracy too was careful to dismiss the endorsement from a newspaper in a country that is widely reviled in Greece as it is seen as the main force behind a raft of painful austerity measures imposed in recent years.

"We are a proud people," New Democracy's spokesman said. "We do not want orders. We do not want provocation and manipulation."

Socialist Anna Diamantopoulou said it showed "political tactlessness" and accused unspecified groups in Germany of pressuring Greece to leave the euro.

In Sunday's election, the second in six weeks, all the top candidates are calling for varying degrees of renegotiation of the country's bailout deal which has provided aid in exchange for a grueling austerity program.

The poll will be watched around the world amid concern over the shockwaves that a Greek euro exit would send through the global economy and will play into talks by European leaders divided on how to resolve the debt crisis.

Meanwhile German Chancellor Angela Merkel had no tips for Greek voters.

"The chancellor does not give voting advice to neighboring and friendly countries," he spokesman Steffen Seibert told a regular briefing.

Asked about Merkel's vocal support for then-French President Nicolas Sarkozy during elections in April and May, Seibert insisted she had not meddled in the democratic process.

"She said that due to the very good working relationship with Mr. Sarkozy and solidarity within the family of conservatives in Europe, she would support the re-election of Mr. Sarkozy -- it is very different," he said.

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