Greek Election Could Create New Instability

Posted May 4th, 2012 at 2:15 pm (UTC-5)
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Greeks head to the polls Sunday in the first general election since the start of the country's debt crisis — a highly-uncertain vote that could bring new political instability.

Angered by economic difficulties, voters are expected to punish the country's two main parties: the socialist PASOK party and the conservative New Democracy party. Many Greeks blame the parties for leading the nation into its current bind through mismanagement.

In just two years, Greece has received two huge international bailouts to keep from defaulting on its financial obligations. But in order to secure the aid from the European Union and International Monetary Fund, the government had to bow to demands to impose sharp spending cuts and tax increases, which have generated widespread protests.

The two main parties are expected to lose votes Sunday to a field of smaller parties opposed to the austerity measures.

“Elections must take place but I'm very disappointed, and I can't decide on anyone. I'm still undecided. I would have liked not to vote at all because I usually abstain, but I feel that I'm obliged to do so in this case, because if I don't vote in this one, it means that I don't have any opinion at all. So I will force myself to vote. The only thing I know for sure is that I will not vote for either of the large parties.''

“I think that showing the government that the majority of people is not going to vote means something. I believe it is much bigger than going to vote for the small parties.”

If, as expected, no party wins enough votes to form a government, building a new coalition could prove difficult and create even more problems for the nation's financial standing and its latest bailout. Many Greeks want the terms of the bailout to be renegotiated.

Other available soundbites:

“I'm waiting to see a more liberal policy with more financing and more liquidity in the economy which is missing today, and another level of cooperation with the European Union.''

“They were telling us that in 2012 we could go out on the markets again. I was alone back then when I was talking about growth, both here and abroad, but my fears have been vindicated. The debt was uncontrollable and it needed a haircut. Now, of course, everybody speaks about growth, both in Greece and abroad.”

“I am afraid we made a lot of mistakes. Nevertheless, I believe that we can overcome it. I know that we are just starting to learn from our mistakes. And I do know that we do have the force and the power to be stronger, wiser.”