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The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 11 February 2017
NEWS 8 THE WEEKEND NEOS KOSMOS | SATURDAY 11 FEBRUARY 2017 Asked about the bailout program stagnation, Greeks place the blame on Europe An outright majority points to the German government as the cause for delay, while support for SYRIZA remains strong DIGITAL.NEOSKOSMOS.COM PHOTO: DIMITRIS RAPIDIS. Among a wave of dissent and rising opposition, a new survey paints a rather different picture, showing people remaining largely in support of the current Greek government, believing it will not enforce additional austerity, and putting the blame for the recent impasse of the bailout program talks on the German government creditors. Issued by ‘Bridging Europe’, a non-partisan international think-tank and communication centre committed to advancing youth leadership in policy-making, the survey came at a time when talks on the conclusion of the second review of the Greek bailout have stalled. Though the Greek economy largely depends on the bailout conclusion, participants do not hold the Greek government − nor the IMF − responsible, putting the blame on the German government’s severe stance by an overhelming 67 per cent. According to the same sur- vey (conducted between 31 January and 3 February, 2017, via telephone interviews and online questionnaire, among 1,159 respondents throughout Greece, proportionally distributed throughout the country’s 13 regions), almost half of citizens (48 per cent) do not believe that the SYRIZA government will further accede to the creditors’ demands for more austerity, with 30 per cent stating they believe that more austerity measures are in order. A rather significant 44 per cent are optimistic about the future of the Greek economy, stating that in 2018 the country will be able to exit austerity and see an end to the tough fiscal program implemented for seven years (i.e. eight after conclusion of the current bailout). Nonetheless, 33 per cent of respondents do not share this view, while a critical 23 per cent remain undecided. The survey also touched on the recently reopened discussion on currency. It found only one in four (26 per cent) believes that the currency is at the heart of the country’s financial problems, stating the economic policy implemented as the main cause, by an overwhelming 71 per cent. In its evaluation of the Greek government, respondents seemed divided. When asked about the government’s handling of the consolidation program, 38 per cent view it as positive (and 11 per cent as very positive), while 27 per cent view it negatively (and 19 per cent very negative). Equally, the government’s work on other areas of public policy affecting citizens’ daily lives is deemed as positive by 48 per cent, while 42 per cent deny that positive steps have been taken. Forty-four per cent believe the government’s first priority should be to tackle unemployment, while 32 per cent prioritise the lift of capital controls and 20 per cent point to the decreasing taxation. The role of opposition par- ties and their contribution to drag the economy and the society outside the crisis is truly disappointing. Sixty-six per cent of respondents stand “very negatively” or “negatively” as regards the opposition parties’ stance in domestic politics, whereas 70 per cent do not ascribe any positive role to them. After this, it comes as no surprise that, asked about the scenario of snap elections, these are deemed unnecessary by an overwhelming majority of 66 per cent. Should such an event occur, SYRIZA could still win, as support for the party remains high at 20.1 per cent, the lowest so far, but still ahead of opposition party Nea Dimokratia, which ranks second with 18.5 per cent. Communist party KKE ranks third with 6.9 per cent, followed by the Nazi Golden Dawn (6.2 per cent), PASOK’s Democratic Alliance (4.5 per cent) and the government’s partners, the far-right Independent Greeks risking entry to the parliament with 3.2 per cent. The most alarming finding of the survey is the overwhelming percentage of undecided voters, which ranks higher than any party at 30.7 per cent. The undecided voters group has not been this high for the past couple of years, presenting itself as a challenge for all parties on the spectrum. To that end, the popularity of PM Alexis Tsipras is noteworthy, especially when compared to his major opponent, ND party head Kyriakos Mitsotakis, who falls short of what his supporters and inner circle would possibly expect. Tsipras is viewed negatively by 30 per cent of respondents (with 29 per cent in favour). By comparison, all other political leaders are viewed negatively by more than 40 per cent, especially Mitsotakis, seen negatively by 47 per cent (with 11 per cent in favour).
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