Samaras Fears New Democracy Loss By “Accident”

Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras in shirt-sleeve campaign mode
Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras in shirt-sleeve campaign mode

Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras said the May 25 elections for the European Parliament are not a referendum on his government but said he fears his New Democracy Conservatives could still lose accidentally.

The elections coincide with the second round run-off for Greek municipalities that decide some key races, including the mayors of Athens and Piraeus, but the focus is on whether the major opposition Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) can win big enough in the Battle for Brussels to bring down the coalition that includes the PASOK Socialists.

“It would be a mistake to allow the European election [results] create instability, because instability can have unchecked consequences,” Samaras said in an interview with Ethnos newspaper.

“It took many sacrifices to get Greece back on its feet. But it would take an ‘accident’ or an unwise vote at the polls to let everything go to waste and send us back to where we where four years ago,” Samaras said.

Despite that fear, he insisted the EU elections are not a contest of whether voters will repudiate the government for imposing harsh austerity measures on orders of international lenders.

SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras said he believes his party will win by such a margin that it will lead to snap elections before the government’s term runs out in 2016.

PASOK chief Evangelos Venizelos, who is serving as Samaras’ Deputy Premier/Foreign Minister, tied his party to the new center-left alliance Elia, (Olive Tree) after the Socialists fell to 3-5 percent in polls for backing continued pay cuts, tax hikes, slashed pensions and worker firings it began in a previous administration.

Venizelos is under siege in the party and he warned a poor showing in the elections could bring down the government with PASOK critics sniping at him, and likely challenges to his leadership.

With polls showing SYRIZA leading the EU race by about 2.5 percent, Samaras stepped up his verbal assaults on the Leftists and Tsipras, who has said if he comes to power he would revise the terms of 240 billion euros ($330.7 billion) in two bailouts from the Troika of the European Union-International Monetary Fund-European Central Bank (EU-IMF-ECB) or default, likely taking Greece out of the Eurozone.

Samaras said that would destroy what he said is the country’s coming recovery from a crushing economic crisis and political stability he said his coalition brings although New Democracy and PASOK helped create a fiscal fiasco with wild overspending and unchecked patronage for decades.

“Some people out there say they will shred the bailout agreements but they don’t know how. They say they’ll raise salaries with money that doesn’t exist. They don’t say where they will find it, they don’t say from whom they will borrow, because there is nobody that will lend it to us,” Samaras told Ethnos.

A Public Issue survey for Efimerida ton Syntakton newspaper put the Leftists at 30 percent against 27.5 percent for the Conservatives.

The center-left Olive Tree (Elia) alliance came in third at 8.5 percent, followed by the neo-fascist Golden Dawn with 8 percent. The Communist Party (KKE) and centrist newcomers To Potami (The River) were both at 6.5 percent. The right-wing, anti-bailout Independent Greeks party had 3 percent and Democratic Left (DIMAR) on 2.5 percent.

A Metron Analysis poll for Antenna TV also put SYRIZA first with 24.2 percent and ND second at 21 percent. The poll showed To Potami with 6.8 percent, Golden Dawn, 6.7 percent; Elia,6.5 percent; and KKE 3.2 percent. The Independent Greeks were 2.8 percent and DIMAR 2 percent.