”They are preparing a firewall to deal with whatever happens in Greece,” said Venizelos, who negotiated Greece’s bailout from his former post as finance minister, before watching his party be punished by losing two thirds of its votes last month. The last opinion polls published before a pre-election blackout gave New Democracy a slight edge over SYRIZA, with both parties set to win about a quarter of the vote each. Party leaders warned at the weekend that a repeat of a deadlock seen after May’s vote was likely. Greek electoral law awards a 50-seat bonus in the 300-seat parliament to the biggest party, meaning even the slightest lead could be decisive in determining who forms the next government.
With ordinary Greeks now thoroughly disillusioned after more than two years of non-stop crisis, there was some disappointment on the streets that Spain appeared to be getting a bailout deal without the harsh austerity terms imposed on Greece.
”Spain knew how to negotiate good terms for themselves,” said civil servant Yannis Telonis, 33. ”It’s too late now for us to do the same. We have failed because we were the euro zone’s guinea pig.” With Greece now in its fifth year of deep recession, unemployment running at almost 22 percent and a growing threat of social breakdown, there is pressure from all parties to ease the tough conditions of the March bailout. SYRIZA wants to reverse a swathe of legislation passed by the previous parliament, promising to raise the minimum wage and reintroduce tougher job protection rules that were scrapped under pressure from international lenders. New Democracy would keep the main conditions attached to the bailout but wants to win more time to hit deficit reduction targets and reverse some pension and benefit cuts. Some Greeks see the Spanish rescue deal as a sign that, with more countries hitting crisis, European leaders are ready to allow more lenient terms. ”Since more countries are in the game, it’s good for us because we will have the grounds to negotiate over better terms,” said Eleni Karakoussi, 31, a saleswoman, who said she intended to vote for SYRIZA. ”I’m not afraid we will be forced to leave the euro zone. I’m tired of being afraid. I only hope that we will have jobs, a way to make ends meet after June 17.”
[Reuters] - Ekathimerini.com