“My anger is stronger than fear Syriza may take the country out from the euro and seize my bank assets,” a friend tells me on Sunday after she cast her vote in favor of the left-wing party. A couple of days ago, Nina, 45, had called me worrying and wondering “what will happen on Monday if SYRIZA wins?”. “What could happen?” I asked and she replied “like being stripped me of my bank assets.” Nina’s husband is without a job and income for the last three years, their two children are university students. The family lives on €850 net monthly salary and meets the rest of its needs by withdrawing money from their bleeding bank accounts – from the times when the middle class family had two monthly salaries coming in from well-paid jobs. The family has been always voting for left-wing parties, however this time the fear-mongering campaign of outgoing government and especially Nea Dimokratia had them doubt for a while, whether their vote decision would be “safe”.
In the same tune, Giorgos said he would also his vote in favor of SYRIZA. He has been voting for the right-wing all his life, but after five years of strict austerity his patience is over. “I’ll take the risk! Whatever!. I really don’t care what will happen! I’m fed up,” he told me. Giorgos is 45, married, two kids. The shop where he was working closed two years ago. The income for the family comes from his wife’s job at a supermarket. He finds only occasional jobs, his parents and parents-in-law help them come though the month.
“I will vote for Samaras,” said Kostas a couple of days ago arguing “I don’t trust SYRIZA on the money issues”. He is 65, retired accountant. His wife was undecided, when I spoke with them. They both used to vote for PASOK.
“We count cents, we have old and sick people to take care of … mortgage… we are fed up!” Maria and Giorgos, both working in public institutions, say that they are fed up from the cuts in their salaries and the cuts in the health sector. In the “good old Greek times” they used to be PASOK supporters, now they will vote for SYRIZA.
” I am angry, I am fed up,” says Dina, 57, a retired teacher and adds “and I am angry at myself for having believed in them [politicians] all these years. Look where they ended up our country.” Dina has one of the few lucky middle-class families to have kept their status-quo through the economic crisis, despite the cut in her pension. He husband, -self-employed-, retired a couple of months ago, her daughter has a job. For decades she had been a loyal PASOK supporter. Now she will vote for the so-called “apolitik” To Potami. “They have no program, they say nothing…” I tell her and she answers “So what? And what happened with all the politicians who were saying something?” One more reason for her preference is that the husband of a friend is a candidate on Potami lists.
In favor of To Potami said she would vote also Kaiti, 65, retired public servant. ” I do not like Alexis Tsipras,” she says. Her husband will vote for Nea Dimokratia. For three decades, they were both members of PASOK, in the “good old times,” so to say.
Neighbor Giorgos, 86, said that he would vote for SYRIZA, hoping that the left-wing would keep its promise to restore the “13th pension” and “scrap prescription medicine participation.” Giorgos and his bed-ridden wife, both pensioners, live on €1000 per month, need a caretaker on 24/365 basis, spend €150 per month on prescription medicine participation and diapers. The couple would not be able to survive if there wasn’t the financial injections coming form their children. Giorgos used to vote for Nea Dimokratia, but that was ages ago….
Speaking with friends and neighbors, I realize that it is not so much the programs of the political parties that push them to vote for A or X. It is their anger about the austerity measures and cuts in every sector of private and public life. Many people feel disappointed and frustrated about the political system that has exploited the country and the people.
For Anna, 57, it is the corruption that bugs her most. She used to work at the tax office, she is now retired. “I will vote for SYRIZA, hoping it would do even 1/10 of what it promises to combat corruption,” she says. Anna was also loyal PASOK supporter.
” I don’t really know,” told me Yiannis beginning of the week adding “I understand nothing.” He is 24, university graduate, unemployed, lives with his parents. I asked again on Saturday and he told me that he would vote for To Potami arguing: “Well… they are young and new.”
Two of my nieces, 24 and 25, said that they would vote for To Potami as well “for being young” [sic!], while a third niece, 25, and two of her friends said they would vote for SYRIZA.
Polling stations opened as 7 o’ clock in the morning Greeks started to cast their votes in what is described as “the most crucial elections not only for Greece but also for Europe. Ballot boxes will close at 7 pm, Exit Polls will be announced at the same time.
*** names of participants have been changed by KTG.
PS at the end of the day I realize that I know a lot of former PASOK supporters living in a middle-class suburb of Athens. No wonder the party received 44% in 2009 elections. Now the party that ruled the country for three decades may be happy for receive 4.5%… The times they are a changing… Odd enough, it seems that I know no KKE-, GoldenDawn- or IndependentGreeks-voters.