Europe

Greece under pressure: Grigorios Papadopoulos

Debt-stricken Greece is set to go to the polls again after parties failed to agree on a new government. Here, Grigorios Papadopoulos from our panel of residents shares his view on the latest twist in the Greek drama.

15 May 2012

We were expecting the collapse of coalition talks.

It is actually for the best - when we go to polls there might be a more decisive outcome.

I think the new left-wing party Syriza will win the election and form a government. I would welcome such a change.

Most people in Greece don't want to see the old two parties in power again. We need new people who are not part of the old corrupt system. We don't want a government that just does what Angela Merkel wants.

What we hope for is a new government that won't continue to apply the austerity measures in the same way. With something like 25% of Greeks jobless, I hope for more emphasis on promoting jobs. I would like to see a plan for development and growth.

I find that expenses are rising every day, utility bills have risen disproportionately. At least I still have my job but if things continue to get worse it would be hard to cope.

I don't want Greece to leave the euro, and think that would be bad for the economy. But we've heard people talking about this possibility for so long now and we can't just live in fear of that possibility.

Right now, we need to be free to choose who should be in office. If we are forced against our will to do something in the next two weeks it would be really wrong. Let the people decide.

8 May 2012

The leader of Greece's left-wing Syriza party is to try to form a government after parties backing an international bailout deal failed to assemble a coalition.

I think there were surprises in the election results.

Greeks have voted, maybe for the first time with conscience and disapproval on their minds. What we see is the collapse of those political parties that led the country to its current position, to this economic crisis, and failed to help us get through that with dignity.

Their total percentage in these elections is less than a third of that of the last one. Politicians that had a major role for the last 20 years are left in behind.

I voted for a party that didn't get any seats in parliament. We still don't know if a government can be formed with such results.

It is probable that we will go back to a ballot. People finally feel that their vote can make a difference, the result might hold even more surprises. The election results are a reaction to both corruption and austerity measures.

I am still uncertain for the future, but I know that something has already changed and that is the way Greeks vote. Maybe this means we understand what we have to do and who we trust in leading the country.

We know that we have to work to bring our economy back to its feet. If our expectations of those in office are met, we will accept new measures, but we expect results.

I hope we get the EU's support on that, not in the form of a new loan, but in the form of trust.

21 February 2012

After Eurozone finance ministers agreed a second bailout for Greece after 13 hours of late-night talks in Brussels.

"We cannot be but sceptical to anything that is announced or practically enforced on us. We reckon that this is considered a rescue attempt for our economy, but people are more wary than ever of their government.

Why has the previous bailout failed? Every month prices and taxes are rising. Before each instalment a series of measures is presented. Thus we are all numb, we can't make any viable plans for our own households.

What I fear most is unemployment. It has spread like an infection throughout the country. I can still manage with some effort. Thankfully my income hasn't been reduced during the last months. That is not the general picture though.

A coalition government, under our current PM, has shown to the IMF and other EU leaders that it is strong. But for how long? One of the major political parties, the one who won the elections last time "and led us" to the first bailout, is collapsing.

Polls show that if elections were held just this month, we would have more parties than ever within the parliament, something which implies a new but fragile coalition government.

So after all that I can't speak about the future of my country. But I do hope it is one "not loaned"."

6 November 2011

Following crisis talks, Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou agrees to step aside for a new coalition to lead the country.

PM George Papandreou had to step down for this to work. There was no way for the opposing party to agree on anything without that happening.

I think Lucas Papademos is the most suitable person to take over. He has worked for the National Bank of Greece, European Central Bank and the IMF among others. If not him... who?

Many say that Mr Papandreou wanted to "play truant" on his responsibilities.

The referendum was clearly a wrong decision, both for our EU neighbourhood and global markets.

A coalition government will surely provide the stability and assurances the European leaders and the IMF need, in order to continue on the road to Greece's redemption.

We've heard that the sixth instalment and the ones that follow are crucial for our economy and any chances of prosperity.

Everyone disapproves of the fact that there were political games in the background from both parties.

Maybe it is only fitting they take the responsibility for what has to be done and finally the blame for any future failures.

But we are all cautious on that. Such a powerful governmental scheme will not have any substantial opposition within parliament.

It will hold more that two thirds of the assembly, thus it will be able to do anything it needs. It is not only the rest of the world that is tired of the Greek politicians; we are tired as well.

I hope the PM-to-be will be an untouchable man of integrity, first of all for the good of the people and the country.

27 October 2011

EU leaders reach eurozone debt deal, including losses for banks holding Greek debts

"I think this is the first good news we've heard all year. Partially, that is. So the Greek economy will be on the right track, moving on gracefully with a fresh haircut.

Yes, I am being ironic here.

We haven't seen yet what this means for Greek citizens. Our concern is for our country, our families and our neighbours.

It is said that by the year 2020 our debt will be 120% of our GDP and thus our economy will be viable. How about the viability of each household?

Will we be forced into more taxes and measures, seeing a rising unemployment or will things change? And why are those responsible for our current situation not named yet?

It is a long term plan, how will the next government deal with that? I don't have answers, I have more questions."

19 October 2011

After riot police and protesters clash during a 48-hour general strike

"It is being reported that this protest is more massive than any previous one for 30 years.

Unfortunately it is not peaceful again.

If it was more peaceful, many more of us would join them.

What we are seeing is all those opposing the government's policies get together in a common front against the taxes proposed by the legislation that are proving to be the finishing blow to every Greek household.

There are people - including myself - who go to work in the morning and then join those gathered in the city centre, providing it's peaceful.

If that doesn't make a point, I don't know what does."

10 October 2011

Following the Slovakian agreement to support a crucial bill ratifying changes to the EU bailout fund

"I've been working at the magazine for three years. When I started the job I earned about €15.5k I now earn, €13k for the year 2011 after cuts.

I live by myself in the suburbs of Athens and I work three miles away from my home.

The measure that has affected me the most is the one that has had an impact on all of us, the change in VAT.

It is now 23% and affects most products, even those that are considered necessities, such as bread and groceries.

Fuel prices have almost doubled within the last few years, due to taxation. A couple of years ago you'd pay about €1 per litre, it is now €1.70 per litre. Utility bills have skyrocketed as well, for the same reasons.

Everything is going up really fast, except of course our wages, they are going downhill.

The real problem is that there are more new measures every month. You can't even begin to make a plan to cope with it. The latest one is a "special levy-tax" which amounts to 1% of my total income.

Add to that we are all running dry of cash."

3 October 2011

After stock markets fell following news that Greece is likely to miss targets to cut its deficit.

"The IMF says we need more austerity measures or else there will be no further payments. We've seen this dance before, it's a foul game.

Has the economy of any nation throughout history benefited from austerity measures such as these?

More people are losing their jobs and this creates more debt for the country. How can fewer workers pay out the full share of this debt?

For the time being, we are all still looking for alternate sources of income.

Those who can, are planning to leave the country in search of better opportunities and jobs.

What the IMF is asking Greece to do, is to make its citizens suffer in negative growth for years to come. What should instead be done, is to strengthen the auditing mechanism for all taxpayers, the banks and those who have a thriving bank account."

29 September 2011

After the vote was passed and Germany approved expanded powers for the EU's main bailout fund.

"Good news or simply not bad news?

One thing is obvious, they want to protect the euro.

Strengthening the mechanism that would help struggling countries within the zone sounds like the right thing to do.

Is it enough? If they think it inadequate for Greece, then what happens when the next country needs support? Maybe Italy or Ireland, you can't ignore it. It is coming.

The debt crisis is not a disease only Greece has. It is widespread and (forgive me for saying so) we are not 'patient zero'.

If we want a European Union that works, we should all work together and not each country for its own gains. I fear we are not there yet."

Before the German bailout vote

"I don't know if we can really expect something out of this or any future vote.

I wish that German people could see and understand that we, the common people, haven't stolen their money. We are not asking for charity. We are hoping for a chance to correct what errors our politicians have made.

If the German parliament feels it needs to make politics at our expense, what can we really ask of them?"

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