Stacey Vanek Smith: A poll this weekend shows Greek voters are supporting politicians who favor the European Union bailout of Greece. Elections in Greece earlier this month rattled the markets when voters came out in favor of political groups that opposed the EU bailout and the austerity measures that came with it.
Our own Stephen Beard is in Athens. He joins us now. Stephen, what is the mood in the Greek capital right now?
Stephen Beard: It’s about three months since I was here last. I can tell you today, in this city, standing here on the streets of Athens, I can see the deterioration in that time. This is a city obviously on the slide. It’s a lot grubbier than it was. There’s more graffiti, a lot more begging as well. The mood is depressed.
Vanek Smith: Now, Stephen, in the last election, Greek voters favored politicians that rejected the austerity measures that came along with the bailout Greece received from the European Union. Does it look like the Greeks will vote the same way in the future?
Beard: The latest opinion polls suggest that one of the mainstream parties that negotiated the bailout is edging ahead. If the polls are correct, this could mean that after the election, we could see a government here in Athens that won’t seek a confrontation with the IMF and Greece’s European partners — it won’t reject the bailout terms out of hand. But, you know, even the mainstream parties here say that the bailout terms have to be renegotiated, they have to be softened. This is something which the German government has refused to consider, it said to Greece, if you don’t deliver on your commitments — cut your budget and reform — you won’t get any more money.
Vanek Smith: Are there worries that Greece will get kicked out of the euro zone in Greece?
Beard: Many Greeks say the Germans are bluffing, they wouldn’t dare let Greece fall out of the euro zone because the whole thing might then unravel. But I think the Greeks are worried, certainly the ones I’ve spoken to. They are very anxious about being pushed out of the euro, they fear the inflationary chaos that might follow. But equally, they can’t stand any more austerity. They say austerity isn’t working, people are suffering, unemployment for the young has hit 50 percent. So the Greeks really are between a rock and a hard place.
Vanek Smith: Our own Stephen Beard on the streets of Athens, thank you Stephen.
Beard: Ok, Stacey.
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