In Athens, uncertainty about weekend elections
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David Brancaccio: The general election in Greece this weekend could shape the pace of the world economy for months to come. At stake is the level of austerity Greeks have to live with and whether or not the country exits the euro.
Natassa Banos is a 45 year old working mother in Athens.
Natassa Banos: We’ve been through two very tough years. Our quality of life has decreased day by day. It’s really hard to live and the I think the most important thing is the depression that has been all over the city and the country. The only thing that we discuss among friends, at work, everywhere, is the austerity measures. And, in fact the problem is that we don’t see any light of hope in front of us, that’s the problem right now.
Brancaccio: What will we know and what won’t we know after the polls close in Greece Sunday? The BBC’s Mark Lowen is in Athens. Mark, good morning.
Mark Lowen: Good morning.
Brancaccio: For people monitoring the situation, should we be looking for a definitive outcome by Sunday night, even Monday morning?
Lowen: Well there will be results that will be coming through on Sunday’s night. Whether or not it’s going to produce a conclusive result is another question all together because it could precipitate days of wrangling to try to form some kind of strong coalition government. And if that fails, really we would face a third election, which would be exactly what Greece and Europe do not need at this time of immense political instability.
Brancaccio: In the case of no clear outright winner, is it possible that maybe a lesser known, smaller political party could end up being kingmaker?
Lowen: Could be kingmaker, but we sort of know which one it would be. It would probably be a sort of small left wing party called the Democratic Left. The big question really is, which of the two big parties — the pro-bailout center-right New Democracy or the anti-bailout leftist Syriza — comes first. Because under Greece’s electoral system, the party that comes first gets an extra 50 bonus seats in parliament.
Brancaccio: Mark, I’ve been getting conflicting reports. Is there or is there not a blackout on polling data this close to the election in Greece?
Lowen: There is, under Greek electoral law, no opinion polls are allowed to be published two weeks before election day. In the last couple of days markets have soared. Yesterday the Athens Stock Exchange closed up 10 percent amid speculation that internal polling is suggesting that the pro-bailout parties are in the lead. But it is just rumor, just speculation that could evaporate between now and Sunday and that’s why this is pretty much the most unpredictable election in Greece for many decades.
Bracaccio: The BBC’s Mark Lowen in Athens, thank you very much.
Lowen: Thank you.
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