IMF chief riles Greeks as crisis election looms
05/28/2012 Political leaders in Athens and thousands of internet users have rounded on IMF chief Christine Lagarde for branding Greeks tax-dodgers, as parties went on the campaign trail for next month’s elections.
Christine Lagarde, Managing Director, International Monetary Fund (IMF),arrives for the World Economic Forum at the congress centre in Davos, Switzerland, January 26, 2012.. Photo by Moritz Hager/World Economic Forum.
Socialist leader Evangelos Venizelos accused Lagarde on Sunday of trying to “humiliate” the debt-stricken country, which is facing its second election in six weeks, a vote seen as crucial to the future of the eurozone.
Radical left-wing leader Alexis Tsipras, whose Syriza party is one of the two top contenders for the June 17 vote, insisted “Greek workers pay their taxes, which are unbearable”.
Greek web users waged Facebook war against Lagarde, with the French managing director of the International Monetary Fund receiving more than 10,000 messages, many of them obscene, on her page on the online social network.
By late Sunday afternoon a separate Facebook page had sprung up titled “Greeks are against Lagarde”.
Their anger was sparked by comments Lagarde made in Britain’s Guardian newspaper on Friday that Greeks must “help themselves collectively” by all paying taxes, saying she was more concerned about Africans in poverty than Greeks in the economic crisis.
Among the online messages posted by angry Greeks, Iakovos Magdakis wrote: “Who are you to tell me to pay? My wife has been unemployed for four years, I have been unemployed for five months and we have a four-month-old baby.”
Lagarde responded to the flood of angry online messages by responding on Facebook that she was “very sympathetic to the Greek people and the challenges they are facing.”
“That’s why the IMF is supporting Greece in its endeavour to overcome the current crisis,” she added on the social networking site.
The comments by the French IMF head came as parties squared off for the election that could determine whether Greece continues to receive EU-IMF funds as part of a multi-billion euro bailout package and stays in the eurozone.
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