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Europe

Mainstream parties face humiliation in Greece's parliamentary elections

media Greek Socialist leader Evangelos Venizelos waves to supporters during a … Reuters/Yannis Behrakis

Sunday’s parliamentary elections in Greece are considered by many to be the most crucial since the restoration of democracy in 1974. Mainstream parties are expected to be hammered in the political fallout of the European financial crisis in a vote that takes place on the same day as a France's presidential election.

The two parties that have dominated domestic politics, the centre-right New Democracy and the centre-left Pasok, which together used to get about 75 to 85 per cent of the vote, are apparently facing a humiliating result.

Dossier: Eurozone in crisis

The publication of opinion polls is not allowed during the last two weeks before the elections but according to results published before the ban took effect, a large number of Greeks wish to punish the two main parties for the way they have handled the economy over the last three decades.

Greece, faced with a huge foreign public debt, was bailed out twice in the past two years and has agreed to implement an ambitious financial adjustment programme.

Pasok and New Democracy have been supporting a coalition government under interim Prime Minister Lucas Papademos and are defending the so-called "Memorandum" with Greece’s creditors.

Most opposition parties object to the ferocious austerity programme imposed in the deal and are opposed to the Memorandum as it stands today. Some are asking for a renegotiation while others just want to terminate it.

The two main parties and a number of small liberal parties that don’t stand much of a chance of winning seats in parliament paint today’s elections as a stark choice between remaining in the eurozone and going back to the drachma, the national currency Greece had before joining the euro in 2002.

Parties of the far left, such as Andarsya (rebellion), the hardline Communist Party; KKE, as well as parties of the far right, propose that Greece exits the eurozone or even the European Union.

More moderate left-wing parties, like Syriza and Democratic Left, will push for renegotiation, even though Brussels and Berlin have indicated that they will not discuss such an option.

The Independent Greeks, a populist right-wing party of MPs that broke-away from New Democracy a few months ago, are also making Europhobic noises. Most mainstream media are drawing attention to the possibility that previously fringe parties will win votes.

A large part of Greek society is in shock in view of a possibility that neo-Nazis Cryssi Avgi (Golden Dawn) will manage to exceed the three per cent minimum of nationwide votes to win seats.

If these predictions prove to be exact, Greeks will wake up Monday morning with a new parliament that will include 10 or more neo-Nazis, for the first time since 1950. This development, unheard-of in this liberal and Europhile country, is the direct result of a policy mix that demolishes the post-war social contract.

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