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Greek Vote: No Easy Way Out

  • June 17th, 2012
  • Posted by EUEditor

greece-athens-and-parthenon3.jpgElectors in Greece voting this weekend (17.6.12) have been wrestling with the toughest of decisions, with no easy answers.

Pre-election  polling gave the pro-Europe conservative party Nea Demokratia an edge, but not enough over the left-wing Syriza group to offer the convenience of a bandwagon to get on – no emerging consensus likely to prevail.

At the elections on 6.5.12, Syriza came from well behind to emerge as the second major grouping, presenting a sharp contrast of choice.

On one hand: The centre-right ND, and centre-left Pasok, both associated with severe austerity policies demanded  by the European partners; but also with the provision of special credit to keep the state going through its debt crisis.

On the other hand: Syriza proclaiming it would keep Greece in the Eurozone currency union, but would demand a renegotiation of the agreement on austerity measures

With stalemate, the elections were called for this week.

Voter intention  polls gave one possibly significant sign; a falling-off of support for small parties, suggesting that voters might be moving away from protest, towards some bitter decision-making, focused on political groups that can get a big bloc of deputies.

Heavy pressure has been brought to bear from outside, including clear statements from the German government that it would be prepared to stop underwriting debt relief, and let Greece drop out of the Euro currency, if a new government abandoned the national commitment on debt settlements.

Banking and business interests have been briefing that they have put in  place plans for dealing with a flight of  money from Greece, and a possible run on its banks.

Nea Demokratia and Pasok have spoken of obtaining more European assistance measures, whether an extension of borrowings or the introduction of risk-sharing “Euro bonds”; in the main though they have issued warnings, that a flight from the Euro would mean gross inflation and an even worse recession.

Supporters of Syriza on the left wing have pointed to the sudden deterioration of social conditions, with widespread bankruptcies and unemployment, linked to the huge withdrawal of public spending. They have argued that austerity is preventing growth, needed to overcome the recession, and say that following the European Union prescription has taken away the country’s dignity.

See EUAustralia Online, “Torrid times …”, 28.5.12; “Elections: France, Greece”, 7.5.12


Athens News, Athens, “Voting under way in crunch election”, 17.6.12., (17.6.12).

George Georgiopoulos and Karolina Tagaris, “Greeks vote in election that could decide fate of euro”, Reuters, London, 17.6.12., (17.6.12).