What the EU Elections Mean in GREECE – Trapped in the EU
Journalists from Greece share their views on what the political future could look like. Arnold Le Goeuil talks to Marcus Bensasson a journalist based in Athens and Lena Argiri DC Correspondent for EPT about the upcoming European elections.
Economic indicators may be somehow positive but Greece never truly recovered from the 2008 – 2011 crisis. Unemployment has decreased but the progress has been made at the price of much lower wages and of the welfare state destruction. Poverty is rocketing, explaining why the youth is ‘fleeing’ the country to seek better opportunities abroad.
The fact that Greece seems not to have the choice but to remain in the European Union tells a lot on the birthplace of democracy.
The neoliberal reforms imposed by the EU, the IMF and Germany have finished burying a country already on its knees. The humiliation they inflicted to Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras (Syriza, left) after the referendum he held in July 2015, forcing Greece to accept austerity measures they voted at 60% against, still has some huge impact today.
The fact that Greece seems not to have the choice but to remain in the European Union tells a lot on the birthplace of democracy. Indeed, apart from Golden Dawn (neo-nazi) and the Greek Communist party, no other major party proposes an exit of the EU because of the economic consequences it could have.
The Impact on Future Elections
Greece should hold a General Election in or before October – maybe in June – but SYRIZA is unlikely to get a new majority at the Vouli. Instead, the main centre-right party, New Democracy is projected to be the winner – with the tough task of forming a stable government.
As for the far-right, it is pretty weak compared to the rest of the EU.
With the Pasok (social liberal) party, which has nearly disappeared from the Hellenic political scene, ND is one of the country’s oldest party and possibly the next ruling one. For Marcus Bensasson, Athens-based journalist, the perception of the party has changed over the past few years as its leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis has cultivated the image of a liberal centrist, even though the right-wing nationalist wing has been exerting its power since the leadership of former Prime Minister Antonis Samaras.
Mitsotakis is hopeful to become Greece next Prime Minister, vowing to continue the neoliberal reforms already applied while trying to address the social crisis.
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For Lena Argiri, DC correspondent for the Greek Public Broadcasting EPT, SYRIZA’s campaign consists in reducing ND’s margin of victory. And to do so, Mrs Argiri says that ‘SYRIZA will try to persuade those parts of society that were hit hardest by the financial crisis, that SYRIZA is the only party that can create and maintain a secure social network to protect them from the economic policies that New Democracy will implement once in power.’
As for the far-right, it is pretty weak compared to the rest of the EU. The neo-nazi Golden Dawn polls around 7% at both the EU and General elections and is – understandably – pretty toxic for any major European far-right party giving the fact that most of them try to appeal to new voters in presenting a more moderate or acceptable image.
This doesn’t mean nationalism doesn’t exist in Greece: debate on Macedonia name (now North Macedonia), a pre-condition imposed by Greece for any EU membership for the Alexander the Great’s country, show how touchy national identity is in Greece; a country that since the 2004 Athens Olympic Games has little reasons to celebrate.