As Greece waits nervously until June 17th to vote in their new parliament, the latest Greek polls published on May 26th shows that Greece’s pro- bailout party is gaining momentum.
New Democracy, a conservative Greek party which supports the 130 billion euro international bailout package, was placed first in all six opinion polls.
New Democracy took the lead over the largest anti-bailout party, Syriza, which took the lead in the polls last week.
If the election was held over the week-end, New Democracy would get between 25.6 percent and 27.7 percent of the vote while Syriza’s support was between 20.1 and 26 percent.
During a speech on May 26th, New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras used strong language to warn Greeks about the possible outcome that could result if Greeks voted for Syriza and their anti-bailout platform.
“If Greece unilaterally rejects the bailout deal it will be isolated for years it will have no food, no drugs, no fuel. It will have to live with permanent power cuts,” Samaras said during a rally.
Samaras spoke about the real dangers that lie ahead if Greece rejects its austerity package and returns to the drachma, their former currency before joining the euro in 2001.
“Greeks would be wrong to believe the nation could remain within the euro region if the country chose not to respect the bailout programs” Samaras emphasized.
“A return to the drachma would see incomes in Greece and the value of bank deposits and property fall by at least half within a few days” Samaras said.
“The re-introduced currency would quickly depreciate by at least 50 percent, prices would rise by at least 25 percent, and the country’s debt as a percentage of gross domestic product would double” he explained.
As Greece struggles to come to terms with high unemployment, pension cuts, and increased taxes, Greeks are finding ways to downsize and develop a more competitive economy that mirrors their most industrious northern European neighbors.
Paying Higher Taxes
According to 2011 Euro-stat figures comparing tax revenue to GDP, among the countries which joined the EU before 2004, Ireland (29.8 % of GDP), Spain (32.9 % of GDP) and Greece (33.2 % of GDP) record the lowest revenues from taxes.
Concerning Greece’s poor track record with taxation and governance, Deutsche Bank’s Fitschen commented about how Greece’s political system is unable to escape corruption.
“Greece is the only country, I feel, where we can say it’s a failed state, it is a corrupt state, corrupt as far as its political leadership is concerned and obviously other people had to be willing to support this” Fitschen said at a conference in Berlin.
Over the week-end IMF President Christine Lagarde said Greeks had to take responsibility for their own fate, saying that deprived children in Africa needed more help than people in Greece.
“I think they should help themselves collectively by all paying their tax,” she said during an interview with the Guardian.
Lagarde’s comments ruffled some feathers in Greece and caused a response from some of Greece’s political leaders.
Left wing Syriza leader Alexis Tsipras replied, “Greek workers pay their taxes, which are unbearable.”
Socialist Pasok leader Evangelos Venizelos accused IMF President Lagarde of “insulting the Greek people.”
Lagarde attempted to make amends and replied on Facebook, “As I have said many times before, I am very sympathetic to the Greek people and the challenges they are facing … An important part of this effort is that everyone should carry their fair share of the burden.”