Vicky Pryce: An ominous vote that shows Greeks have had enough

The Greeks will feel emboldened by the election of François Hollande in France

Share
Related Topics

A joke was circulating in Greece, only one of two countries in Europe along with Belgium where voting is compulsory, that to prevent the right-wing New Democracy from getting a large share of the votes one had a duty to lock up all the conservative-inclined grannies and granddads in their houses to stop them from voting.

And maybe it worked. New Democracy, though emerging as the largest party, only gained around 19 per cent of the vote, much less than the earlier polls were indicating. But the greatest shock was for the socialist Pasok, the previous ruling party, which came third with just 13 per cent, beaten by a new left-wing party called Syriza which won nearly 17 per cent of the vote.

Syriza wants to renegotiate the austerity package imposed on Greece as a condition for its bailout packages. This seemed to be the common theme across the myriad of new parties that sprang up, both on the left and right. By splitting the votes, they managed to end what has for the past 38 years since the collapse of the junta in 1974 been a cosy two-party system run by family dynasties and which has left Greece with a culture of nepotism, corruption and administrative incompetence.

Ominously for the euro project, the anti-austerity vote is in the majority. It cannot be ignored. Greece has seen its GDP decline for four years in a row and is now in its fifth year of recession with output forecast to fall by a further 5 per cent in 2012. Unemployment has risen to over 20 per cent and youth unemployment to 50 per cent.

Even if some sort of coalition is formed with the "pro-European" (if they can be called that) parties of Pasok and New Democracy achieving some deal with either the new leftist or right-wing parties, the problem is that the democratic legitimacy for it will be lacking. Ordinary Greeks feel they have been unfairly penalised and have had enough. There is real poverty now in Greece and the county is showing signs of xenophobia with a near-fascist anti-immigrant party, the New Dawn, managing to get 19 seats in parliament, having collected nearly 7 per cent of the vote. The situation is getting toxic and violence against both legal and illegal immigrants flared before the elections.

So where do we go from here? Whatever coalition emerges the bailout package and its conditions will have to be re-examined. The Greeks will feel emboldened by the election of François Hollande in France and the change in the tone of Mario Draghi, the head of the European Central Bank, who is now calling for greater emphasis on growth policies.

Greece of course still needs extra injections of cash and the stock market opened sharply lower yesterday. But the large number of loud and chatty voters milling around the local school in an Athens suburb where I watched my 18-year-old niece exercise her right to vote for the first time on Sunday afternoon did not seem to care. They all, whatever their political persuasion, just wanted one thing: change.

 

Vicky Pryce is a Greek-born City economist and former joint head of the UK Government Economic Service

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Sauce Recruitment: Retail Planning Manager - Home Entertainment UK

salary equal to £40K pro-rata: Sauce Recruitment: Are you available to start a...

Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - London - up to £40,000

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Creative Front-End Developer - Claph...

Recruitment Genius: Product Quality Assurance Technologist - Hardline & Electric

£18000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The role in this successful eco...

Ashdown Group: QA Tester - London - £30,000

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: QA Tester - London - £30,000 QA Tes...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

CPAC 2015: What I learnt from the US — and what the US could learn from Ukip

Nigel Farage
 

If I were Prime Minister: I would create a government that actually reflects its people

Kaliya Franklin
HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower