Greeks vote as leftist Syriza days in power seem numbered

A resident of Makrynitsa offers a Greek National flag to Greece's opposition New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis (C) during his visit in the central Greek village, on July 2, 2019, during his pre-election campaign five days ahead of the general elections. (AFP/Aris Messinis)
Updated 07 July 2019

Greeks vote as leftist Syriza days in power seem numbered

  • Incumbent Alexis Tsipras of the Syriza party is on one side — a 44-year-old radical leftist who stormed to power in 2015
  • On the other side of the fence is Kyriakos Mitsotakis, 51, of New Democracy

ATHENS: Greeks began voting on Sunday in a snap election that opinon polls say will bring opposition conservatives to power, ending four years of leftist rule blamed for saddling the country with more debt and mismanaging crises.
The election is largely a showdown of two contenders. Incumbent Alexis Tsipras of the Syriza party is on one side — a 44-year-old radical leftist who stormed to power in 2015 vowing to tear up the austerity rule book only to relent weeks later.
On the other side of the fence is Kyriakos Mitsotakis, 51, of New Democracy. He is from a famous political dynasty — he hopes to follow the footsteps of his father as prime minister, while a sister of his was foreign minister.
Opinion polls put New Democracy’s lead at up to 10 percentage points, potentially giving it an absolute majority in the country’s 300-seat parliament. Voting starts at 7.00 am (0400 GMT) and ends at 7.00 pm, with first official projections expected about two hours after voting ends.
Greece endured a debilitating financial crisis from 2010 which saw the country needing a cash lifeline from its European Union partners three times.
The economy is the public’s main concern, said Thomas Gerakis of pollsters MARC.
“Voters want to know the government can give Greeks a better tomorrow,” he said. Some voters wanted to punish Syriza for reneging on past pledges, he added.
Tsipras was also roundly criticized for mismanagement of crises on his watch, and for brokering a deeply unpopular deal to end a dispute over the name of neighouring North Macedonia.
One hundred people died in a devastating fire which swept through a seaside village east of Athens last year; while Mitsotakis was quick to the scene to console survivors, Tsipras was out of the public eye for several days.
Greece wrapped up its last economic adjustment program in 2018, but remains under surveillance from lenders to ensure no future fiscal slippage. Though economic growth has returned to the country, unemployment is the euro zone’s highest at 18 percent.
New Democracy has promised to invest in creating well-paid jobs with decent benefits. The outgoing government meanwhile hopes voters will reward it for upping the minimum wage by 11 percent and reinstating collective bargaining.
Mitsotakis hopes that his reforms will convince lenders to show more flexibility in due course.
“The first thing that is necessary for economic growth to be boosted is a stable government, a strong majority in the next parliament,” Mitsotakis told Reuters.
Tsipras says that a vote cast in favor of Mitsotakis would go to the political establishment which forced Greece to the edge of the precipice in the first place.
“Each and every one of you must now consider if, after so many sacrifices, we should return to the days of despair,” he told voters, wrapping up the pre-election campaign on Friday.


Police hunt killer of Omani student stabbed outside London's Harrods

Updated 48 min 35 sec ago

Police hunt killer of Omani student stabbed outside London's Harrods

  • Mohammed bin Abdullah Al-Araimi attacked as he walked home
  • Pronounced dead outside the famous department store

LONDON: UK police are hunting for the killer of an Omani student who was stabbed to death outside Harrods department store on Friday in a suspected robbery.

Mohammed bin Abdullah Al-Araimi, the youngest son of Omani property developer Sheikh Abdullah Al-Araimi, was attacked as he walked home from spending the evening with a friend, reportedly a Bahraini citizen.

It is believed Al-Araimi, 20, attempted to fight back when attacked before receiving a stab wound to the back and collapsing near an entrance to the department store, according to a report in the Evening Standard.

He was pronounced dead shortly after at the scene on Brompton Road.

The man he was with, also wounded in the incident, has since been released from hospital.

Al-Araimi was a student at King’s College and his relatives, said to be close to Oman’s royal family, were regular visitors to the UK capital.

Detectives investigating the murder said that the motive for the attack was likely robbery, and that Al-Araimi might have been targeted for his Rolex watch.

“Mohammed and his friend were returning home from a restaurant when they were approached and assaulted by two male suspects on Basil Street at the junction of Pavilion Road,” Detective Chief Inspector Andy Partridge said.

“The victim and his friend were entirely blameless, simply enjoying a meal out together. It does appear that the motive for this cowardly attack was robbery.

“Following the attack, the suspects fled on foot along Basil Street in the direction of Sloane Street.

“I would appeal to anyone who saw two males running along that route, or to drivers who were in Sloane Street around midnight and may have captured any part of this incident on dash-cam footage, to get in contact with my team immediately,” he added.

However, robbery as a motive was dismissed by Al-Araimi’s family in a short statement in which they said his murder being related to the theft of a watch was false.

“The police have confirmed that his possessions were not taken, and he was not wearing a watch at the time of this horrific attack,” the statement read.

The Omani Embassy released a statement, saying: “A regrettable stabbing attack took place, claiming the life of the Omani student, Mohammed bin Abdullah Al-Araimi. With great sadness and sorrow, the Embassy in London extends its condolences to the family of the deceased.”

The attack also prompted the UAE embassy to warn its citizens on Twitter against “wearing valuable items” given a recent spike in attacks on "citizens of Arab Gulf states.”

Attacks on Arab citizens have increased in London in the past five years, the most high-profile of which saw three Emirati women being bludgeoned to death in an attempted robbery in 2014 at the Cumberland Hotel.