Greek frontrunners go head to head in second TV debate

GMT 19:20 2015 Monday ,14 September

Arab Today, arab today Greek frontrunners go head to head in second TV debate

Former Greek prime minister and leader of the left-wing Syriza party Alexis Tsipras (L)
Athens - AFP

The frontrunners of Sunday's Greek snap election, leftist Alexis Tsipras and conservative Evangelos Meimarakis, lock horns Monday searching for an edge in a second debate in the neck-and-neck race.

Hosted again by state broadcaster ERT, the faceoff starts at 1800 and will see the two main contenders attempt to woo one in ten Greek voters that are still undecided, according to polls.

In contrast to a first debate that also included another five parties, the leaders can ask each other questions and comment on the answers.

Former PM Tsipras, 41, is asking for a second chance to put a human face on the unpopular 86-billion-euro ($97-billion) bailout he brokered with EU creditors in July.

Tsipras came to power in January promising to eliminate austerity, but was forced to accept a rescue package including more cuts, and ultimately resigned last month after a revolt by hardline eurosceptics wiped out his parliamentary majority.

He now pledges to continue the fight against poverty and corruption and to force the rich to pay their taxes if re-elected.

"Syriza is a force that wants to represent the unprivileged...we fought for justice for the people more than anybody else," Tsipras told ERT on Sunday.

Meimarakis, a 61-year-old former defence minister temporarily running the New Democracy conservatives after former leader Antonis Samaras resigned in July, accuses Tsipras of destroying the economy in his seven-month stint in power.

"No prime minister has done as much damage in as little time as Tsipras," Meimarakis told Ethnos daily on Monday, accusing the leftists of "dangerous" handling that antagonised Greece's international creditors, imposed capital controls and brought a new austerity bailout.

Meimarakis says he will invite Tsipras to form a unity government and a multi-party team to negotiate with the country's creditors on how to lift the country out of crisis.

Tsipras has rejected any possibility of working with the conservatives which he accuses of helping to bankrupt the country through nepotism and corruption in the last 40 years.

"We are not invited to cooperate but to become part of old party politics," Tsipras told ERT.

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