Voters question whether polarised parties can form stable government


ELECTIONS IN ATHENS:AS GREECE ENTERS the final week of campaigning in its repeat election, the question for most voters remains whether the country will have a stable government after next Sunday’s poll.

If the May 6th election was marked by fragmentation and the desire by voters to punish establishment parties, the June 17th contest is being characterised by increasing polarisation between Syriza and the conservative New Democracy party, led by Antonis Samaras. A moratorium on the publication of opinion polls has been in place since June 1st but pollsters have been conducting surveys privately on behalf of the parties since then.

According to the findings of one pollster, who spoke to this newspaper on condition of anonymity, the Radical Left Coalition (Syriza) is in first place and could comfortably form a government with the moderate Democratic Left party without requiring the support of socialist Pasok.

Another informed source has tentatively suggested that Syriza, which says it will cancel the existing memorandum and seek to renegotiate the country’s legitimate loan commitments, may even be in a position to form a majority government on its own.

New Democracy’s campaigning has increasingly turned negative, focusing less on the merits of its own programme than on what it says will be the disastrous consequences of a Syriza government.

One conservative political broadcast this week shows a teacher in a classroom listing the countries of the euro zone. When one young schoolgirl asks why Greece is not among them, the teacher offers only a despondent look of despair.

Another ad showed the Greek flag being lowered from the array of European flags.

Amid acrimonious finger-pointing about who was responsible, both parties failed to agree to hold a televised pre-election debate – there was none before the May 6th poll either.

As the politicians bicker, pharmacists with dispensing contracts with the country’s largest and most indebted state-run social insurance fund have said they can no longer extend credit to customers who will now have to foot the bill for their own medicines.

Pharmacists have taken the unprecedented step of accepting donations from the public to help the neediest patients obtain prescriptions.