Greece set for ‘turning point’ election as economy flounders

By Guy Jackson and Katerina Nikolopoulou ,AFP

ATHENS — Greece stood Saturday on the brink of a make-or-break general election that could sweep the anti-austerity Syriza party to power and set the country on a collision course with its international creditors. The possibility of Syriza winning Sunday’s vote has sparked fears that Greece could fail to keep up its debt repayments and leave the euro. Alexis Tsipras’ radical left-wing party have a clear lead of around four points over the incumbent conservative New Democracy party of Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, according to opinion polls. In his final appeal to voters on Friday, Tsipras promised he would restore ��dignity�� to Greece. He wants to renegotiate Greece’s massive 318 billion euro (US$357 billion) debt and put an end to years of austerity measures linked to an international bailout. Samaras told his party’s supporters in his closing rally that it would be crazy to elect Syriza just when the fiscal reforms he has supported could be about to pay off. ��Syriza will turn all of Europe against Greece … They don’t understand Europe, they don’t believe in Europe,�� he said. Greece has endured deep budget cuts tied to its 240 billion euro bailout from the so-called troika �X the European Union, International Monetary Fund (IMF) and European Central Bank (ECB). Unemployment is around 25 percent and the economy has shrunk by a quarter since the start of the eurozone crisis.