BY Fraser Tennant
Amid ongoing electoral tensions, domestic debates and political struggle, the beleaguered citizens of Greece have had their say – via a nationwide survey – on the progress of bailout talks, the stability of the Greek economy, the viability of Grexit, as well as the job being done by the Syriza coalition government to keep the country afloat.
Coinciding with a stall in talks on the conclusion of the second review of the Greek bailout (the result of two unsuccessful Eurogroup meetings held in December 2016 and January 2017), the survey highlights what ordinary Greeks think about their status as an under pressure European Union (EU) member state – one which, if it does not receive a new tranche of financial aid under its €86bn bailout by the third quarter of 2017, risks defaulting on its debts.
The German government announced last week that it remained united on the need to stabilise the Greece economy, despite a clear divergence of opinion between Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives and their Social Democratic coalition partners on how this can best be achieved going forward.
Among the key findings of ‘Nationwide Survey in Greece: Bailout Talks, Assessment of Syriza coalition government’ are: (i) the Syriza party remains ahead of the opposition New Democracy party by a narrow margin (Syriza has led the polls since January 2015); (ii) the undecided voters pool is "getting bigger" and has exceeded 30 percent for the first time since September 2015; (iii) the German government is being blamed by 67 percent of Greeks for the big delay in concluding the Greek bailout review; (iv) the majority of Greeks do not consider Grexit to be a viable alternative (71 percent consider the economic policy that has been implemented as "problematic"); (v) the role and stance of opposition parties, especially in the economic filed, is perceived to be “insufficient”, with 70 percent indicating a lack of alternative solutions and policies; and (vi) prime minister Alexis Tsipras is held to be the most popular leader followed by opposition leader, Kyriakos Mitsotakis.
Furthermore, the survey highlights hopes that the bailout programme will be the “last one”, a view held by 44 percent of Greeks.
With time clearly pressing on all sides, the coming months are likely to see further disruption, with the next Eurogroup meeting later this month, while not exactly make or break, highly significant for the Greek economy and its people, ordinary or otherwise.