As the battle of dueling polls continues to show the ruling New Democracy (ND) Conservatives of Prime Minister Antonis Samaras and the major opposition party Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) trading places as number one, the tiny Democratic Left (DIMAR) said both are pitting Greeks against each other to get votes.
DIMAR served for a year in a coalition with ND and the PASOK Socialists, who decided to withdrawn its opposition to worker firings to stand by Samaras and gain positions in the government cabinet. A recent poll showed the ND-PASOK was favored by Greeks despite the coalition’s imposing of more austerity measures but now another shows SYRIZA back on top.
“Over the last few days, the game of manufactured polarization, of tensions and black and white is being played again,” said DIMAR. “The aim is for New Democracy and SYRIZA to profit, leaving citizens trapped.”
DIMAR leader Fotis Kouvelis supported Samaras to the hilt while serving in his government before leaving after Samaras, with the eventual backing of PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos who was rewarded by being named Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, shut down the national broadcaster ERT and fired all 2,656 workers.
DIMAR is barely at 3 percent in the polls – with PASOK showing 5-6 percent – with Kouvelis’ unremitting backing for austerity taking its toll on his little party which is at the bare level needed to win seats in Parliament, making it irrelevant in terms of its political strength.
New Democracy and SYRIZA have exchanged barbs frequently recently and tension was ratcheted up after Health Minister Adonis Georgiadis, who wants to close hospitals and cut medical care, was jostled by protesters on a visit to Attiko Hospital.
His appointment in a Cabinet shakeup that brought in PASOK ministers had analysts shaking their heads in disbelief as he is a far right-winger known for provocative and polarizing views with no experience in health care. Before entering politics, he sold books on the glory of ancient Greece on late-night TV shopping channels.
“Greece has lived through the negative consequences of the two-party system,” said DIMAR in reference to the dominance of New Democracy and PASOK in the past. “The country does not need to experience the effects of a caricature of this,” added the leftist party.
Meanwhile,a Pulse RC opinion poll on July 22 gave SYRIZA a 2 point lead over New Democracy, 21-19 percent. The neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party, which won 18 seats in Parliament in 2012 with 6.97 percent of the vote has nearly doubled that, with 13 percent now. PASOK trailed at 6.5 percent, followed by the Communists with 5.5 percent, the Independent Greeks with 4 percent and DIMAR with 3 percent.
SYRIZA may have gotten a publicity bump as the poll came a week after it held a founding Congress giving its leader Alexis Tsipras control over its disparate factions of Maoists, Trotskyites, anarchists, Communists, extreme Leftists, ecologists and the like.
While SYRIZA and ND jostle for the lead, every poll has shown Samaras a runaway preference to be premier over Tsipras, who has said he wants Greece to walk away from a memorandum with international lenders putting up $325 billion in two bailouts but which has insisted on pay cuts, tax hikes, slashed pensions, worker firing, a reduced minimum wage, an end to collective bargaining and phasing out of workers rights in return.
While Samaras has followed orders from the Troika of the European Union-International Monetary Fund-European Central Bank (EU-IMF-ECB) in implementing the measures he opposed before taking office, Tsipras has offered no alternative to taking loans and said he wouldn’t fire any workers, wouldn’t cut any government spending, and would continue the country’s bankrupt-level spending level without explaining how he would do it.