all polls that were published until this deadline took affect indicated that Syriza was on an upward swing. In the past few days, ND and Syriza quarreled openly over a proposed televised debate involving Alexis Tsipras and Antonis Samaras; the initiative foundered over format and other details. Some have interpreted this "cockfight" as an indication of frayed nerves at ND HQ in light of poll figures showing Syriza doing well. Another party that feels the pressure of Syriza's improving prospects is the Communist Party (KKE) whose traditional share of the vote (around 7%) has already suffered from attrition in the direction of Mr. Tsipras. Pasok continues to slide; the "socialists" could be up for further painful surprises on June 17. The splinter parties like the Independent Greeks and the Democratic Left (DIMAR) are equally suffering from the struggle between Syriza and ND, although DIMAR still hopes to emerge third on election day.

Has there been anything in particular this last week that could have a commanding impact on how the campaign develops in the last few days before the ballot box?

From a "high ground" point of view, the most prominent feature of the campaign is that the continuing threats and blackmail from abroad, aiming to enhance ND and Pasok, are having the exact opposite impact. They anger Greek voters and keenly contribute to the trend in favor of Mr. Tsipras. The more the Germans laud and try to boost those in favor of austerity and the infamous troika "memoranda," the more the Greek public opinion's hostility toward those who enmeshed Greece in the "bailout" grows. There was also an incident on live TV during a morning chat show involving a spokesman of the ultra-nationalist Golden Dawn party and two female left-wing candidate MPs. A heated exchange between the three led to the Golden Dawn member striking communist candidate MP Liana Kaneli in the face and storming out of the studio. In the wake of the fracas, a Facebook page set up by Golden Dawn supporters was deluged by comments congratulating Elias Kasidiaris, the Golden Dawn spokesman, and railing against Kaneli and the communists. The incident triggered a massive amount of sniping between the opposing sides, with some pundits arguing that Golden Dawn benefited from the commotion, especially because Kaneli is famous for her aggressive style during "debates." Politically, this live TV "boxing match" demonstrated starkly the deepening fissures within Greek society and the growing risk of "differences" getting out of control.

Fears about increasing political violence have been expressed in the past. Are we growing closer to any such possibility?

Foreign correspondents continue to marvel in private at the apparent perseverance of the Greek public under the repeated "domestic devaluation" blows of the troika and the collapse of the Greek economy -- and often comment that if such measures were to be contemplated in countries like England and France, the popular explosion would have put to shame May 1968. While Greece has developed a domestic "terrorist" tradition in the post-junta years, she (fortunately) lacks underground organizations like the traditional IRA. On the other hand, the present circumstances appear conducive to the eventual evolution of some type of "resistance" movement as visions of the future grow bleaker by the day and mass depression sets in. In the past week, for example, ND and Syriza exchanged more verbal blows over a video clip, available on YouTube (in Greek), in which a man ND insists is a Syriza member offers advice on how to develop a domestic armed resistance "army." The man appearing in the video calls on "small groups" of potential fighters to arm themselves with whatever weapons they can find and begin "resistance action" without waiting for the appearance of a central planning command. Syriza vehemently denied any relation with the YouTube "agitator," but this random call for "resistance" registered nevertheless as an added sign that strains within Greek society may be growing in the "wrong" direction.

What we should be looking for in this last week before June 17?

Political parties continue to conduct surveys kept in-house and what they will be looking for would be indications that Syriza develops the kind of dynamic that would not only allow it to emerge first but, also, to improve its capture of the vote by exploiting attrition from ND. Local reports speak of "hand-to-hand combat" over the hearts and minds of those who are inclined toward Mr. Samaras but, at the same time, hesitate because of ND's catastrophic somersaults concerning the "memoranda." ND's attacks on Syriza, labeling it "irresponsible," "dangerous," and capable of triggering a pan-European crisis via a unilateral abolition of the "bailout" terms, may be having the exact opposite effect than the one desired by Mr. Samaras. Both "mainstream" parties -- ND and Pasok -- despite the debacle they suffered on May 6, remain the same basic political organizations as before, commanded by obsolete and morally bankrupt methods, and replete with cadres who have lost every bit of political credibility and are identified now widely as the equivalent of "demolition material" being used to build a supposedly "new" political movement. So, this last week will be all eyes on Syriza, with some attention also directed at Golden Dawn and the possibility that it would improve its May 6 performance.

Tassos Symeonides   


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