Alexis Tsipras, the leader of the leftist bloc Syriza in Greece, has said he would cancel the country's 'bailout' deal with the EU and IMF if he wins June elections. Polls put Syriza neck-and-neck with the conservatives.
The leader of one of Greece's strongest political parties said on Friday that if elected, he would cancel Greece's existing emergency loan packages from European partners and the International Monetary Fund.
"The bailout is either applied or annulled," far-left Syriza leader Alexis Tsipras said. "We ask for the vote of the Greek people in order to annul it."
The 37-year-old politician, whose alliance's popularity has skyrocketed amid Greek voter dissatisfaction with the established parties, has consistently campaigned on such a platform. In Friday's speech, he likened the loan agreements - which are tied to biting budget cutbacks and economic reforms - to a "deadly medicine" causing a "tragedy" in recession-hit Greece.
"You don't save a patient's life by changing the dosage of a deadly medicine. You need to change the medicine itself," he said. "The bailout is putting Greece on automatic pilot towards utter disaster. It is tantamount to returning to the Drachma."
The Drachma was Greece's former currency before it joined the eurozone in 2001.
Tsipras has previously said, however, that he would want Greece to remain in the eurozone if he becomes prime minister.
Greek voters are to go to the polls for the second time in six weeks on June 17. The previous snap election in March was followed by failed attempts to form a functioning coalition, with the three major parties and President Karolos Papoulias all trying and failing to set up a power-sharing deal.
Current opinion polls suggest that Tsipras' Syriza and the conservative New Democracy party have almost identical levels of public support, but still not enough to rule without at least one coalition partner.
The two traditional powers in Greek politics, New Democracy and the Socialist PASOK party, support the international rescue package - or at least regard it as unavoidable.
msh/pfd (AFP, AP, Reuters)