Greece: “Apathy and indifference”: disillusioned Greek voters

PATRAS: Greece’s elections have a reputation for being a rowdy affair, with rowdy arguments in taverns or street protests – but the mood is muted ahead of Sunday’s election as voters doubt the ability of the main parties to solve their economic problems.
Incumbent conservative Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis of New Democracy and his Syriza party rival, leftist Alexis Tsipras, are vying for power in the country’s most uncertain general election in a decade.
“Our lives won’t change tomorrow, no matter who wins,” said Nikos Kalaitzidis32, who works at a gas station in Thessaloniki, the country’s second city.
For Chrysa Papadimitriou, 43, there was only “the apathy and indifference of most voters this time”.
“You don’t hear political discussions like you used to and most people avoid talking openly about who they’re going to vote for,” she said.
With an abstention rate already at 42% in the 2019 election, analysts have warned that the number of people skipping the ballot box could increase this time around given the apparent lack of interest.
And the high likelihood that Sunday’s polls will be inconclusive and require a second round due to new election rules means some may miss out on the poll given it looks unlikely to be the deciding vote. .
Any second round will likely take place in July.
But owner of an optical store Vassilis Kalyvas said the disinterest was mainly due to a feeling that little would change.
“From conversations with people, they are disappointed with the two big parties,” the 55-year-old told AFP from Patras, Greece’s third-largest city.
“The Greeks don’t have a way out at the moment,” he said. “I want a government that asserts and supports the interests of the people and helps the economy to grow. From what I see, that is not the case.”
Empty promises?
Stavroula, 31, giving only her first name, said she would not travel to her hometown in the Peloponnese to vote.
“What’s the point? Politicians coax us with promises they won’t keep,” she said in Athens, accusing Mitsotakis and Tsipras of “doing nothing to improve the situation of the most precarious.”
Retired Matina Vassiliadou69, said that “our lives have become very difficult because of inflation.
“That’s what worries me the most. Our pensions have gone down over the years,” she said, adding that what she received each month was insufficient to pay bills, food and medicine. .
“What we hear on TV about pension increases is a joke,” she accused.
The level of apathy may even be higher among new Greek voters, who number 440,000 and make up 8% of the electorate.
Only one in four people between the ages of 17 and 24 voted in the last election in 2019, said Maria Karaklioumi, political analyst for polling firm RASS.
High school student Nefeli Zouganeli, 16, admitted that most of her classmates had had enough of the main parties and would likely skip the vote or choose one of dozens of smaller parties with little hope of making it to parliament.
But Tsipras has touted wage hikes — including a higher inflation-indexed minimum wage — among his campaign promises.
And Mitsotakis argued that his last four years have laid the foundations of economic stability on which Greece can build.
At rallies, the Harvard grad stressed he had delivered on previous promises to bring steady growth, tax cuts and tougher immigration rules.
He also shrugged off the apparent lack of enthusiasm for this year’s vote, saying “the de-dramatization of politics is also progress for the country”.
“We don’t need to be in a terrible state of tension all the time and think that politics has to be a battle for survival,” he said.


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