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Greece's Choice: It's The Euro Or The Drachma

(c) Sky News 2012

Greece's elections are a straightforward choice between sticking with the euro or returning to the drachma, the country's conservative leader has said.

Antonis Samaras was speaking at the final election rally of his New Democracy party in Athens.

He said: "We are going into an election to decide the future of Greece and of our children. The first choice the Greek people must make is: euro versus drachma."

New Democracy, which backs the country's EU/IMF (Berlin: MXG1.BE - news) bailout, is running neck-and-neck with anti-bailout leftists going into Sunday's vote.

Mr Samaras' main challenger has promised to rip up the agreements with Greece's international creditors - but stay in the euro.

Alexis Tsipras - the 37-year-old leader of the radical left Syriza coalition, told his own rally in Athens earlier that the recent bank bailout in Spain showed the EU is prepared to soften its approach to troubled countries.

"We will vote on Sunday with our eyes on the south, on Spain," he said.

"Spain negotiated and succeeded in taking financial support without a fiscal consolidation package, despite the lenders' threats and blackmail.

"The memorandum of bankruptcy will belong to the past on Monday," he promised his cheering supporters.

Mr Tsipras has pledged to make the bailout "history" if he completes a historic run that has so far seen his fledgling party more than triple its results from the previous poll in 2009.

"The bailout deal is already in the past. It will be history for good on Monday," he said.

Mr Tsipras says he intends to negotiate a new economic blueprint with Greece's EU peers but if he is turned down "it will mean that they want to exterminate the country, the people, the nation," he told Antenna television.

"I promise you tears and sweat, but we will exit the crisis," Mr Tsipras said.

As his campaign winds up, New Democracy chief Antonis Samaras said he was confident he would be able to put together a coalition government.

"We will stay in the euro. We do not play around with Europe (Chicago Options: ^REURUSD - news) ," he said.

Mr Samaras has branded the leftists' electoral programme "comic book economics" although he, too, has said he will negotiate with Greece's creditors to ease the bailout conditions, pointing out that a mood shift in Europe will ease the task.

All the main parties in Sunday's elections are trying to lure austerity-weary voters by promising to renegotiate elements of the agreement signed with the EU, International Monetary Fund and European Central Bank.

The agreement has seen public job cuts and wages and pensions slashed. They were the conditions attached to two financial lifelines to the country, which is mired in debt and has been in recession for five years.

With Spain recently calling for a bank rescue and Italy under renewed pressure, a summit of EU leaders later this month must deal with the crisis increasingly threatening global growth prospects.

Greek Elections: A look At The Main Contenders

:: New Democracy: Conservative/ centre-right

Leader: Antonis Samaras, 61

Eurozone: The largest pro-bailout party which is committed to staying in the euro; Will negotiate with Greece's creditors to ease the bailout conditions and try to boost economic growth; It was part of the coalition government in power before the May 6 elections so shares responsibility for the current austerity cuts.

Domestic: Traditionally seen as a pro-European and pro-business party; Has pledged to lower taxes and raise pensions.

Final pre-election poll: 25.5%

:: Pasok: Socialists/ centre-left

Leader: Evangelos Venizelos, 55

Eurozone: Pro-bailout party which was in power until the May 6 elections so shares responsibility for big cuts to social spending; Now insists unpopular austerity measures can be reversed and unfavourable conditions of the bailout agreement be revised.

Domestic: Has promised no civil service lay-offs; Pro-privatisation to make its economy more competitive.

Final pre-election poll: 13.5%

:: Syriza: Radical left

Leader: Alexis Tsipras, 37

Eurozone: Rejects the terms of Greece's international bailout and wants to negotiate a new economic blueprint with the EU and IMF (casting doubt over its future membership of the euro).

Domestic: Opposes austerity; intends to scrap cost-cutting labour reforms, raise the minimum wage and freeze state assets; Has promised to nationalise banks and stop privatisations; Wants to increase taxes for higher earners.

Final pre-election poll: 31.5%

:: Golden Dawn (CDNX: GOM.V - news) : Extreme right

Leader: Nikolaos Michaloliakos, 55

Eurozone: Anti bailout, anti-EU, ultra nationalist party.

Domestic: Anti-immigration; its logo is similar to the Nazi swastika.

Final pre-election poll: 4.5%

:: Others Democratic Left (says Greece could fulfil its bailout commitment without the harshest austerity measures): Independent Greeks (anti-bailout but wants to stay in the euro); KKE/ Communist Party (anti-bailout, anti-austerity, wants Greece to leave the euro, EU and other international institutions); Laos/ The People's Orthodox Rally (rejects bailout deal in current form but is 'open to co-operation')

Greece's Economy: GDP Growth Over The Last Decade