by Christelle Pangratis on 15th June 2012 • The Cast Blog
I will be flying off to Greece this evening. Normally this would fill me with a sense of joy and excitement. After all, leaving a rainy, sulky and cold Brussels for a sapphire green Mediterranean island, and I’m sure there will be few objections here, is a winning hand. But while I am looking forward to the rocky beaches and some olive-scented shade, I am worried, and sad. I will be flying off to Corfu this afternoon…to vote.
I have never really lived in Greece, but as electoral laws will have it, I am obliged to vote in the birth place of my father, the island of Corfu. The Greek elections and what is at stake no longer need any introduction. We all know the potentially devastating consequences for Greece and the Euro. If the people of Greece decide to cast a protest vote this Sunday, Athens and Europe will enter into unchartered territory. Greeks are on the horns of a dilemma: to vote for a new party running on a negative platform (anti-bailout with no real economic plan) or confirming the long-established centre-right government, led by a man who refused to back the transitory government of Papademos for more than six months, calling for elections in the name of ‘democracy’. Unfortunately, our political leadership did not follow the Italian example to favour reforms and give the time for a new political leadership to emerge. Not surprisingly, despite the high stakes, it is estimated that around 15% of the electorate are still undecided.
Alexis Tsipras of the radical-left Syriza has toned down his discourse, telling the Financial Times that his party would try to keep Greece in the eurozone, if the Memorandum of Understanding with the troika is scraped and austerity measures are alleviated. In the meantime, Mr. Tsipras’ rhetoric has accelerated bank withdrawals which are currently reported at around €800 million/day. I happen to be a Europhile, believing both in the positive economic consequences of European integration and its higher ideals of unity, diversity and shared destiny. That is, however, not the question here. My personal opinion is that blackmail will simply not work.
And so, this is the second time I will be spending several hundred Euros to be able to cast my ‘preference’. Unlike in most modern democracies, I cannot vote from abroad. I have many friends who will not be able to make it, and who feel powerless in front of these decisive, and erratic, elections. Pension funds are running out, the housing market is collapsing, utility providers are going bankrupt, and medical provisions are becoming dangerously scarce.
Of course not everything is gloom. Ads highlighting all the things that are still untouched by the crisis have been running in Greece and spreading in social media. One of them goes as follows: “Greek sun, not in crisis”. On Sunday, the people of Greece and its political leadership will be deciding exactly how badly the economic recession will impact the nation. In the meantime, we can all choose to make use of our economic votes. Which is why, despite the electoral stress, I will be enjoying my glass of cold coffee by the seaside, accompanied by fresh local watermelon, and visiting the exhibition by artist Mike Petrakis provocatively entitled “The Land of D€MOCRA$¥” at the Municipal Gallery of Corfu.
Perhaps some of you will decide to join me.
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