Greeks who have left their homeland because of the economic crisis and Greeks of the diaspora await Sunday’s election results with bated breath, according to a Guardian report.
For some, the January 25 ballot is so important, they make plans to return to Greece to vote. Others want to but cannot afford it, while Greek diaspora members say that only those who live in the homeland should vote.
Ikaros Matsoukas, a 34-year-old management consultant in Britain, is one of the 200,000 young, talented Greeks who left their crisis-stricken homeland. He feels so strongly about Sunday’s elections that he belongs to the first category. With SYRIZA leading opinion polls, he is excited to fly home and cast his ballot.
“I believe it is the most important [election] in recent times in Greece,” Matsoukas said. “The coalition parties, with the same politicians, have been ruling the country for the last 40 years and have led Greece to this dire situation so I believe it is time for someone new… The current policies are leading Greece straight into an iceberg.”
Stefanos Livos, a 30-year-old distance learning coordinator in Britain, will also fly home to Zakynthos for the elections but has not decided who to vote for yet.
“I was leaning towards SYRIZA,” he said. “But I don’t feel happy with my vote. But at the same time, I don’t think there is anything out there to vote for that will make me feel happy and satisfied. It’s difficult because the parties’ differences are not that big and even SYRIZA is becoming more moderate. This is why people feel uncomfortable voting for SYRIZA, because they can see what’s going to happen,” he told The Guardian.
Further away, in New York City, Eleni Xar and her husband Titos are working in a food market. They would vote for SYRIZA but they cannot afford to fly to Greece.
“All the people my age are leaving Greece,” Xar said. As a student, she had worked for the New Democracy party but she became very disappointed.
“The basic salary for a person my age is 400 euros. You can’t live on that. And the politicians make a big amount of money.” All her friends back in Greece, she said, have had to move in with their parents and most of them are unemployed.
In Australia, Greeks of the diaspora watch the recent political developments with great concern. Greek-speaking media fervently analyze election campaigns.
“I’ll never forget Athens in 2012,” said George Vardas, secretary of the Australian Hellenic Council. “I couldn’t believe how depressed the place was.” He believes Sunday’s election will be pivotal, with SYRIZA ready to form the first left-wing government in Greece.
“I think SYRIZA would be more conservative in governance than they are in opposition, because once they have the power of government, they’ll realize it comes with great responsibilities,” he told The Guardian.
Nicholas Pappas, honorary secretary of Australia’s Greek Orthodox Archdiocesan Council, is on the same wavelength. “I’m not as fatalistic as others, who are seeing it as the end of the world as we know it if SYRIZA is elected,” he said.
“Everyone agrees that Greece needed some measure of austerity. But I think it’s been applied unfairly and somewhat crudely to a nation that isn’t accustomed to an efficient taxation system,” Pappas added.
Dual citizen Chrissie Verevis is not allowed to vote but she doesn’t object to that. “I think only those who are going to fully live the result should be allowed to vote,” she said.
“But if I was in Greece, I would feel that [current Prime Minister Antonis] Samaras has had his chance. People say [SYRIZA leader Alexis] Tsipras doesn’t have much of a plan. I don’t believe that. But we know what Samaras’ plan is, and we’ve seen the result: little short of a humanitarian crisis.”