The pre-election marathon is close to its end and on Thursday night, three of the major political parties held their last meetings before election day. Almost simultaneously, New Democracy, SYRIZA and the Green environmentalists called their supporters to give them confidence that they are the future of Greece and next Monday, they must take as many seats in parliament as possible.
The most active and numerous turned out to be the supporters of New Democracy in front of Zappeio Hall near Syntagma Square. The majority of blue sympathizers were members of the youth organization of the party. Among them, there were people of middle and older age, but the main core of agitating new democrats were aged about 25. The area around the rostrum of Samaras had become a sea of national flags. About half an hour before the speech of the blue leader, over the megaphones were echoing slogans for a strong Greece, for the New Democracy government of success and the announcement, "In a few minutes, you will see the new prime minister of Greece - Antonis Samaras." To the surprise of casual viewers, however, while the name of Samaras could be heard from the speakers, the youths of New Democracy were chanting the slogan, "Forward with Karamanlis as Prime Minister."
Shortly before the leader of the right began his speech, security guards opened the way for the former Prime Minister of Greece Costas Karamanlis to reach that part of the rostrum designated for party members. Young people from the front of the audience went into an inexplicable euphoria that verged on hysteria, crying "Karamanlis, our leader. Prime Minister."
At this point, the only reasonable explanation that occurred to me was that the PASOK government of George Papandreou was such a spectacular failure that it has made an entire nation forget the failures of the government of Karamanlis, who lost the early parliamentary elections in the autumn of 2009 with a huge difference.
After Antonis Samaras appeared, the euphoria of the inflated with enthusiasm youthful army of New Democracy reached new heights. Whistles were screeching everywhere. Several light flashes as those used during football matches were lit. There were smoke bombs. Voices were screaming. Hands were clapping. Flags were waving in full force and propaganda groups were shouting, "We are taking Parliament with a majority."
Samaras said that his most serious problems as opposition so far had been the Memorandum of PASOK and the destructive impulses of the far left. He explained that after taking up power (he seemed almost convinced in front of his constituents), he will renegotiate the terms of the financial agreement to make it more favourable for Greece and will take off the hoods from the faces of the hooligans destroying his country with riots. These promises were met with loud applause. Then, he said he will finally solve the issue of illegal immigrants. Samaras insisted that he will build new camps for temporary detention and will meanwhile establish a uniform policy for the deportation of unwanted foreigners from the countries of southern Europe. He described the economic crisis as Pandora's Box from which all ills have come, but which is still preserving hope. "That hope will restore New Democracy", Samaras said in conclusion.
Less than a kilometre away and with a difference of half an hour, the extreme left SYRIZA gathered its supporters in Omonia Square. The familiar faces of union leaders and active leftist activists could be seen at the meeting. They were walking with leaflets and flags in their hands. SYRIZA supporters proved to be a colourful crowd. From young people in love with the idea of equality and power in the hands of the people to older women who looked old enough to remember the Italian occupation – they had all come to hear what the young hope of the extreme left Alexis Tsipras had to say.
Tsipras said that people should realize their power and vote for the creation of a left government. He used a familiar remark of the old PASOK leader Andreas Papandreou "The river does not flow back" to clarify that the changes in the political system of Greece are inevitable. The leader of the extreme left urged those who have decided not to give their votes to either PASOK or New Democracy, to give a chance to SYRIZA and other left parties of European orientation to take the power and change the country.
The meeting of Green environmentalists was the least enthusiastic and had the lowest attendance. They had chosen to meet with their supporters in Koumoundourou Square on Piraeus Street, which is known as the meeting point of illegal immigrants. The environmentalists had organized the meeting in a pleasant atmosphere with small iron tables decorated with flowers.