Greeks vote on Sunday in a national election that, according to the polls, Greece’s opposition centre-right New Democracy party is heavily favoured to win.
Greece’s leftwing prime minister, Alexis Tsipras, called the snap election just over a month ago, after his Syriza party was hammered in elections for the European Parliament and local governments. At that time New Democracy was nine points ahead, and there is little indication as we speak that the gap has narrowed.
The New Democracy leader, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, has pledged a more business-friendly administration if he’s elected. He has promised tax cuts and more efforts to draw in foreign investment, to pull Greece out of a ten-year economic slump.
Mitsotakis’s message has found wide appeal among small business people who have suffered the most from the ongoing crisis, as well as those concerned about rising crime and a lack of police protection.
Tsipras, on the other hand, claims his four-year socialist rule lifted Greece out of tutelage to the European Union and European Central Bank and put the ailing national economy on a sounder footing.
Yet even though Mitsotakis is well ahead, there’s still a question mark over whether he’ll get a governing majority.
Poverty, taxes and violence
Whoever wins the confidence of the Greek people this Sunday, Catholic Archbishop of Athens Sevastianos Rossolatos has a clear message for them: that “the people can’t take any more” of the now ten years of political and social torment that followed the global economic crisis of 2009.
“The hopes are for a decrease in taxes, on the one hand, and for an increase in employment, on the other, because there are still many unemployed people, almost 18%”, Rossolatos told Vatican News, also expressing his hope that the new Government will bring about a reduction in the anarchist attacks that have plagued Greece in recent years.
“We have 600,000 young people, above all university students, who left the country”, continued the prelate, lamenting that the extent of the economic crisis in Greece has been underestimated by both the European Union and the wider international community.
“For the moment we don’t see” any kind of much-needed and long-promised support from the EU, decried the archbishop, “because the position of several European Union states towards refugees is very negative, and the refugees remain in Greece”.
The prelate added that the consequences of this abandonment by Brussels – along with the high taxes, high unemployment and social unrest that have been the consequences of austerity measures – include growing extremist sympathies among voters.
“There is a strong radicalization to the point that it is feared that some small parties of the center will not be able to enter the Chamber of Deputies” in the vote today, warned Rossolatos.