News

Greeks Weigh Austerity, Discontent Ahead of May 6 Elections

A protester shouts slogans during a May Day protest in Athens, May 1, 2012.
A protester shouts slogans during a May Day protest in Athens, May 1, 2012.
Dominic Laurie

After two, huge financial bailouts in the past three years, the reputation of the two main traditional parties in Greece - the Socialists and the Conservatives - has suffered. Greek voters are heading into a general election Sunday wondering whether mainstream politics and politicians are still relevant.

Sunny Rethimno harbor, located on the northern coast of Crete features a sapphire-blue sea on one side and snow-capped mountains on the other. It is just a few days before the start of the tourist season. Bars and restaurants are starting to fill up. Locals say they have weathered Greece's austerity plans better than in the capital, Athens.


Tourism

Last year’s tourist season was good because of protests in North Africa deterring travel there. But this year is not so good. Residents say German tourists are wary of being insulted, and American tourists are scared of being caught in a riot.

One hotel manager said he thought this summer would be “catastrophic.”  

Voter discontent

Many Greeks blame the two main parties for the corruption and mismanagement that have put Greece in its present bind. The parties are expected to lose half their seats.  

The Socialist deputy mayor of Rethimno, Pepi Birliraki, says Greek voters have a right to be edgy.

"I am afraid we made a lot of mistakes," said Birliraki. "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.”

Many young Greeks feel betrayed by the older generation.  

Take Sifis Mamalakis and Stelios Stavridakis are two restaurant-owners in the town. Mamalakis is not going to vote. He has lost trust in the main parties.

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

Who to vote for


Stavridakis is equally frustrated with politicians from his parents' generation, but, unlike Mamalakis, he says he will vote for one of the smaller parties.

"Abstaining or not going to vote does not solve the problem," said Stavridakis.  "You are part of the problem so you have to go to vote, in my opinion.  If you do not vote, a big percentage will go to the two big parties that are first.”

Sunday’s election will radically change the makeup of Greek politics. The big traditional parties will be weaker.  

The more than 10 smaller parties that will gain seats are against austerity imposed by the European Union. Many want out of the eurozone. If their presence in parliament is big enough, they might one day get their way. The consequences of that are unknown, but even now, Greeks are looking into an uncertain future.

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Expelled from Pakistan, Afghan Refugees Return to Increased Hardshipi
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
May 28, 2015 6:48 PM
Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Expelled from Pakistan, Afghan Refugees Return to Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Floodwaters Recede in Houston, but Rain Continues

Many parts of Texas are recovering from one of the worst natural disasters to hit the southwestern state. Heavy rains on Monday and early Tuesday caused rivers to swell in eastern and central Texas, washing away homes and killing at least 13 people. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, floodwaters are receding slowly in the country's fourth-largest city, and there likely is to be more rain in the coming days.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video US Voters Seek Answers From Presidential Candidates on IS Gains

The growth of the Islamic State militant group in Iraq and Syria comes as the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign kicks off in the Midwest state of Iowa.   As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, voters want to know how the candidates would handle recent militant gains in the Middle East.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Film Festival Looks at Indigenous Peoples, Culture Conflict

A recent Los Angeles film festival highlighted the plight of people caught between two cultures. Mike O'Sullivan has more on the the Garifuna International Film Festival, a Los Angeles forum created by a woman from Central America who wants the world to know more about her culture.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.

VOA Blogs