Greek Left-wing Opposition Party Poised to Win Sunday's National Election

Syriza's lead over the party of Prime Minister Antonis Samaras varies from 2.8 percentage points to 6.7 points but is trending upward.

AFP

Greece’s left-wing opposition Syriza party is leading the ruling New Democracy conservatives in the last nine polls published ahead of the country’s election Sunday.

Syriza’s lead over the party of Prime Minister Antonis Samaras varies from 2.8 percentage points to 6.7 points but is trending upward. In four of these polls, which are rolling ones, the lead rose sharply from Thursday to Friday evening, when the last polls were published.

Syriza has alarmed markets by urging massive debt forgiveness and wanting bailout deals rewritten.

The number of undecided voters remains significant. All but two polls show it near or above 10 percent.

The centrist party To Potami is in third place in four polls, while the extreme right-wing Golden Dawn party is third in another four. They are tied in the ninth poll. There was no campaigning yesterday.

Meanwhile, the anti-bailout Independent Greeks party has emerged as a potential coalition partner for Syriza should the leftists win the election.

Although it is a center-right party, formed by rebels from New Democracy, the Independent Greeks shares Syriza’s opposition to the terms of Greece’s 240-billion-euro bailout by international lenders.

For weeks, the party, which had 12 deputies in the last legislature, had looked unlikely to get past the threshold needed to enter parliament, but since January 15, all but two of 18 opinion polls have given it at least the 3 percent needed.

Syriza has widened its lead over the ruling conservatives in the run up to polling day but it remains unclear whether it will have enough votes to govern alone. Syriza leader Alexis Tsipras has urged Greeks to give his party outright victory and has been careful to avoid naming potential coalition partners, although the communist KKE party has ruled out an alliance.

Tsipras has unnerved markets with a pledge to overturn austerity and demands a debt write-off from European partners. But his message has resonated with Greeks struggling with unemployment over 25 percent and wage and pension cuts.

Independent Greeks leader Panos Kammenos, a former deputy shipping minister who broke away from Samaras in 2012, says the bailout by the European Union, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund reduced Greece to the status of a debt colony.

“We will never go as beggars on our knees to [German Chancellor Angela] Merkel, we will go standing tall as Greeks do. The Greek people are fighting united to restore national sovereignty and dignity,” he said in Friday’s campaign speech.

The Independent Greeks differ from Syriza on many traditionally conservative issues, pledging to crack down on illegal immigration and defend the close links between the Orthodox Church and the state. But in other ways the party could be as comfortable a fit as To Potami, the untested new centrist party often seen as Syriza’s most likely ally.

Its anti-bailout line is much tougher than the pro-Europe rhetoric of To Potami. It wants to wipe out a large part of the debt, which is equivalent to 175 percent of economic output, and cut high levels of taxation, with incentives to attract investment, create jobs and provide funding to small companies.