Greece Could Still Quit Euro Zone, Venizelos Alarms

Finance | May 2, 2012, Wednesday // 17:48|  views

Greek PASOK Socialist party leader Evangelos Venizelos addresses the media during a news conference in Athens, Greece, 02 May 2012. EPA/BGNES

The Greek Socialists' leader Evangelos Venizelos has warned that Greece still faces the risk of exiting the euro zone.

"The danger of the drachma still exists," he said, speaking at a news conference in Athens, but added that the overwhelming majority of Greeks support the euro.

He said Greece's next government should have the backing of at least half the electorate or else its mandate to govern will come into doubt, as cited by Dow Jones.

Speaking at a news conference just days before May 6 elections, Venizelos attacked the fringe parties that have risen on the left and right of the political spectrum at the expense of Greece's two leading parties.

Greek voters will decide Sunday whether to return Greece's two major parties--the Socialist Pasok party and the conservative New Democracy party--to power.

The two parties, which have ruled in a fractious coalition government since November, look likely to secure just enough votes to form a majority in Greece's parliament, but with half of the vote or more going to anti-austerity parties of the left and right.

Under Greece's election law, the party with the most votes--most likely New Democracy--is awarded an extra 50 seat bonus in parliament. With that bonus the two parties combined look likely to secure enough seats to control a narrow majority in parliament, but without necessarily securing a majority of the vote.

Referring to the rise of the extreme-right, neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party, which is poised to enter parliament for the first time, Venizelos said extremist parties like Golden Dawn represent a threat to the country's institutions and its democracy.

"There is nothing more dangerous than a society in crisis, which slides into fascist behavior...What Greece needs is security for the Greek citizen and decent treatment for illegal immigrants."

Venizelos repeated his commitment not to impose any new taxes if he wins the country's upcoming elections, and low-income salary earners and pensioners wouldn't be affected by austerity measures to be introduced in June.

According to recent polls, some 15% of voters support Pasok, while 22% support New Democracy.

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Tags: Evangelos Venizelos, PASOK, New Democracy, greece, euro zone, Eurozone, euro


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