Global Eyes on Greece as It Prepares for Austerity-Deciding Election

The European Union flag and Greek flag wave in front of the Acropolis, in central Athens. (AFP Photo/Andreas Solaro)

Global Eyes on Greece as It Prepares for Austerity-Deciding Election

Greeks are set to vote tomorrow in a pivotal election to choose either an anti-bailout or pro-austerity path for their country.

Left party Syriza leader Alexis Tsipras said, "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." His rival, Antonis Samaras of the New Democracy party, told supporters in his final rally before the election, "If we cancel the bailout plan, we will turn into the black sheep of Europe."

Fear-mongering was echoed by Jean-Claude Juncker, who leads eurozone finance ministers and is also Luxembourg's prime minister, who said that consequences of a Syriza win would lead to "unpredictable" consequences.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who has repeated her urgency that Greece follow the austerity measures, was in emergency meetings with French President Holland and UK Prime Minister David Cameron to discuss the possible aftermath of the election.

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CNN: Greece prepares for crucial election

Athens (CNN) -- People in Greece weighed their options Saturday as they prepared to vote in a pivotal election that could determine the debt-stricken country's future in the eurozone and have an impact on the global economy.

Two parties, New Democracy and Syriza, are considered to be front-runners going into Sunday's vote.

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Helena Smith the Guardian's Greek Election blog:
Europe holds breath on eve of Greek election as voters struggle to decide

If [the Greeks] go to the left and cast their votes in favour of the radical anti-austerity Syriza party, in the capitals of Europe it is unanimously agreed that they will be playing with fire.

If they go to the right and vote in favour of New Democracy they will get more of the old order which got them in the financial mess that has now brought their country to the brink but, so the logic goes, it gives them a bit of time. The conservatives have vowed to renegotiate the arduous fiscal measures demanded in return for rescue loans from the EU and International Monetary Fund but at least they have not pledged to rescind the policies as Syriza's leader, Alexis Tsipras, has done.

Tsipras, who on Friday night gives his finale speech in Salonika, the country's northern capital, has not only threatened to annul the "loan agreement". He insists he can have it both ways: Greece can reject the austerity attached to financial assistance and still stay in the euro. "No to the memorandum of bankruptcy," he told a mass rally Thursday. "Yes to the euro and to a national plan for economic recovery that will protect the people form bankruptcy."

Such pronouncements make European leaders shudder - reject the measures, they say, and there will be no more assistance. And without the loans Greece will default on its debt and be ejected from the single currency. [...]

With no party expected to win an outright majority, the real question is how effective the new government will be. Apparently Greece will be given 100 days to prove that it can implement the kind of reforms that can put its ramshackle economy back on its feet, according to German officials. Whether it is the left or the right that emerges on top, the new government will be forced to walk a tightrope - with the opposition violently shaking the rope from below.

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