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Greek voters may punish bailout parties

Thursday, May 03, 2012 - 02:25

May 3 - Greek voters angry with austerity will decide on Sunday whether to punish pro-bailout parties in a highly uncertain election that may not produce a clear winner and could plunge the country into new political chaos. Joanne Nicholson reports

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The right-wing Golden Dawn party holds a rally in Athens. It's one of 32 political parties and independent candidates taking part in the Greek election on Sunday. Many are new and anti-austerity - a sentiment that's been swirling around since Greece was bailed out by the European Union for a second time. At the top of the agenda for voters is whether they're prepared to stick to the harsh austerity measures put in place to save them from bankruptcy. Dimitris Katsikas is a professor of politics at Athens University: (SOUNDBITE) (English) PROFESSOR DIMITRIS KATSIKAS, POLITICAL ANALYST, ATHENS UNIVERSITY, SAYING: "The people want actually to give an anger vote if you like, to give a vote that will punish the government, basically the two main-stream parties, that have governed in the past 30 or 40 years." Votes that traditionally went to the two main parties are likely to be spread among the new ones, allowing newcomers to enter parliament for the first time. The polls, though, show the New Democracy Party will still secure a quarter of the vote and have to form a coalition with rival PASOK, something Samaris, doesn't want. (SOUNDBITE) (Greek) NEW DEMOCRACY LEADER ANTONIS SAMARAS SAYING: "We are asking for a clear mandate and the strong majority in order to do what needs to be done and is required by the country in order for Greece to stand on its feet, and it can and it will." New Democracy is promising to reduce unemployment to less than 10 percent within the next few years. But the battle cry of PASOK's leader, Evangelos Venizelos - a former finance minister who helped negotiate the bailout - is to extend the length of time it has to meet the bailout targets. (SOUNDBITE) (English) PASOK LEADER EVANGELOS VENIZELOS SAYING: "We are responsible and fully aware of what we say. We propose a comprehensive plan, for the final exit of the country from the crisis, in three years, and this is something very concrete. We propose the unique, safe way for this exit." Greece missed many of its targets in the first EU bailout programme of 2010, and many analysts believe the second bailout may need to be renegotiated to strike a balance between political and economic stability. Joanne Nicholson, Reuters

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Greek voters may punish bailout parties

Thursday, May 03, 2012 - 02:25