An estimated 150,000 Greeks crowded into a central Athens square on Friday night (11 November) for the Greek Communist Party's major pre-election rally.
An estimated 150,000 Greeks crowded into a central Athens square on Friday night (11 November) for the Greek Communist Party's major pre-election rally. The Greek parliament was dissolved last month after Prime Minister Constantine Karamanlis called general elections a year early in the hope of obtaining a fresh mandate from the country. The elections will be held on November 20.
SYNOPSIS: Massed rallies have already been staged by the ruling New Democracy Party of Mr. Karamanlis and by a new right-wing political group called the National Party. But on Friday night it was the turn of the Communists.
The crowds had come to hear the party leader, Mr. Harilaos Florakis -- newly returned from celebrations in Moscow to mark the 60th anniversary of the Russian revolution.
Mr. Florakis had many criticisms to level at Mr. Karamanlis and his government, including what he called the discrimination which prevented the Communists from holding its rally in Constitution Square as other parties did.
Instead, the rally took place at Aegyptou Square in central Athens. The tens of thousands of supporters, many holding anti-American, anti-NATO and anti-government placards, listened attentively as Mr. Florakis outlined his party's domestic programme. He gave details of how workers' living standards would be improved and he attacked government policies on monopolies.
The Communists' foreign policy entails Greece's withdrawal from NATO and the abolition of United States military bases in Greece. In addition, the party would withdraw Greece's application to join the European Economic Community and would seek an independent national policy like that of Switzerland and Sweden. Mr. Florakis said.
He told supporters that his party did not intend Greece to withdraw from NATO in order to join the Warsaw Pact. During the rally, Athens police took strict security measures around the square in case of clashes between the Communist supporters and right-wing demonstrators. But no such clashes were in evidence.