Saturday, 20 April 2013

Faith erodes in austerity, political system

This article was published by EnetEnglish.

Anti-austerity parties in parliament would win a majority of votes if an election were to happen tomorrow, a new nationwide opinion poll being published by Sunday Eleftherotypia shows.

The poll also indicates that faith in the democratic political system is collapsing, with almost a third of respondents expressing nostalgia for the 1967-74 dictatorship on the eve of the coup’s 46th anniversary.

Parties that reject austerity and want to re-write the country’s loan agreements with the Eurozone - the radical left Syriza, staunchly conservative Independent Greeks, far-right Golden Dawn and the communist party - would take 51.9 percent of the popular vote, compared to the 45.8 percent they won in June, the poll indicates.

The poll also suggests a strengthening of smaller parties at the expense of the two major players. The ruling New Democracy conservatives and opposition radical left Syriza continue to run neck-and-neck, garnering 18.7 percent and 18.1 percent of the vote respectively in the poll’s raw, unrendered results.

But each party is dwarfed by the 30 percent of respondents who are undecided, or say they will not vote or cast a blank ballot. Even distributing these proportionally among the parties for which a preference was expressed only raises New Democracy to 27 percent and Syriza to 26.2 percent – a point below their June 2012 performance.

By this reckoning, the far right Golden Dawn would enter third at 10.7 percent, and the anti-austerity Independent Greeks, who also stand to the right of New Democracy, fourth at 9.5 percent, both significantly strengthened compared to the last election, indicating that anti-austerity parties on the right continue to eat away at New Democracy’s ability to regain its former glory as the coach-house of the centre-right.

Voters continue to punish the conservatives’ partners in government; the socialist Pasok would come in fifth with 8 percent of the vote, down from 12 in the last election, and the moderate Democratic Left sixth with 5.6 percent compared to 6.3.

Dictatorship nostalgia, suspicion of politicians

Perhaps more worrying is the fact that faith in Greece’s political system seems to be at an all-time low.

Thirty percent of respondents agreed that under the 1967-74 dictatorship “things were better than they are today,” according to the poll. That figure rises to 46 percent among New Democracy voters, but even a quarter of Syriza voters agree.

Nostalgia for the dictatorship is markedly higher when people are asked about living standards and security, where 46 percent and 59 percent say conditions were better, respectively. 

The dictatorship was launched on April 21, 1967 by a nationalist conspiracy of colonels who had become radicalised during their military service in Cyprus. It collapsed after a failed attempt to spawn a coup in Cyprus in July 1974 triggered the Turkish invasion of the island. Since the restoration of democracy, loathing of the colonels’ dictatorship has become a mantra for politicians of all hues.

Yet it is those post-dictatorship politicians who are now viewed with suspicion. Sixty-nine percent of respondents say they have “low” faith in parliament. Ninety-three percent of respondents believe that political parties subsist on unregulated money, while 70 percent say the parties should no longer be funded by the public purse. Three quarters of all Greeks continue to prefer coalition governments to single-party rule.

The Greek Weltanschaung

Perhaps not surprisingly for a society that has lost almost a quarter of its economy, the Greeks have little faith in their European partners’ handling of the crisis. Seventy-eight percent believe things are worse in the Eurozone now than they were a year ago. Ninety-four percent want the government to seek reparations for forced wartime loans to Nazi Germany, while 89 percent have a negative view of German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

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