As Greece prepares for parliamentary elections this weekend, opinion polls put anti-austerity party Syriza in the lead, raising fears of a debt standoff with the EU and IMF. Kirsty Bassset reports.
This is the party tipped to take control of Greece at the weekend. Populist party Syriza is promising to end austerity, reverse some reforms, stop privatisation and negotiate a cut to part of the country's huge debts. The latest opinion polls show Syriza widening its lead over the conservatives - Gerasimos Routzounis is from Kapa Research. (SOUNDBITE) (English) KAPA RESEARCH POLLSTER, GERASIMOS ROUTZOUNIS, SAYING: "Essentially voters are not deciding between which policies or what they are voting in favour of, they are deciding basically what they are against." What will happen if Syriza takes power? Many believe there will be months of torturous negotiations ahead if the party wins, as it tries to win concessions from EU and IMF lenders. The party almost took power in 2012, when fears of a Greek exit from the euro zone reached a high. That seems less likely this time around, according to Athens university professor George Pagoulatos. (SOUNDBITE)(English) GEORGE PAGOULATOS, ATHENS UNIVERSITY PROFESSOR OF EUROPEAN POLITICS AND ECONOMY, SAYING: "Grexit' cannot be totally excluded but I really see a really low likelihood of 'Grexit'. It makes no sense. The Greek economy and the Greek people have suffered a lot over the last five years." German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she was willing to work with whichever party wins the snap election. (SOUNDBITE) (German) GERMAN CHANCELLOR, ANGELA MERKEL, SAYING: "The Greek people will choose freely and independently and then we will enter into discussions with the government that is elected." Although Greece's debt burden is a whopping 175 percent of GDP - the economy is actually starting to grow. And despite the challenges ahead, it's a glimmer of hope for the country, and the party which is chosen to steer its future course.