- Title: GREECE: Greeks say they want to see radical changes but no exit from the euro
- Date: 17th June 2012
- Summary: ATHENS, GREECE (JUNE 16, 2012) (REUTERS) SYNTAGMA SQUARE WITH PARLIAMENT IN THE BACKGROUND GREEK FLAG VARIOUS OF PEOPLE WALKING ALONG ATHENS MAIN SHOPPING STREET (SOUNDBITE) (Greek) YANNIS KOBOGIANNIS, UNEMPLOYED, 57, SAYING: "I will vote for the same party (as in previous elections) because until now the parties that have been in power did nothing. Now I will vote for another party which I believe might make a change." (SOUNDBITE) (Greek) ALEXANDROS KOSTAS, PRIVATE EMPLOYEE, 59, SAYING: "Definitely we'll go and vote. Greeks must go and vote because we must remain in the euro and the euro zone." (SOUNDBITE) (Greek) PANAGIOTIS GRIVAS, PENSIONER, 80, SAYING: "The same party I voted (in previous elections) and voted for all these years. I am of an age and have been through hardships and I know what to vote. I will not be carried away now by the new (parties) who say that they'll do this and that." (SOUNDBITE) (Greek) PETROS ROSOS, TEACHER, 47, SAYING: "In this election as in the previous my criterion remains the same. I will vote for a party that will carry on with the bailouts and the reforms in relation to the bailouts." VARIOUS OF PEOPLE WALKING ALONG SHOPPING STREET EXTERIOR OF ATHENS ACADEMY ATHENA STATUE AND GREEK FLAG ON ROOFTOP OF ATHENS ACADEMY GRAFFITI ON ACADEMY WALL READING: REVOLT - LET'S NOT LIVE AS SLAVES - REVOLT NOW STENCIL WITH TEXT READING: SHUT DOWN CAPITALISM STENCIL DETAIL STREET ART WITH ELECTION THEMES ON SUBWAY WALL STENCIL READING: DEMOTE WITH THE HEAD OF PASOK LEADER EVANGELOS VENIZELOS STREET ART SHOWING WOMEN WITH LUGGAGE WRITING ON THE LUGGAGE READING: 'FROM PARTY TO COMA IS NOT AN OPTION, FULL STOP' (Greek)
- Embargoed: 2nd July 2012 13:00
- Location: Greece
- Country: Greece
- Topics: Economy,Politics
- Reuters ID: LVAF4S2G1EDKKIPW94LVM4QJCXXT
- Story Text: Greeks are weighing anger at five years of biting recession with a deep fear of being forced from Europe's single currency on Saturday (June 16), the eve of a pivotal election that could send shockwaves through global financial markets.
The vote on Sunday amounts to a referendum on the punishing terms set by international lenders as the price of saving debt-ridden Greece from bankruptcy - tax hikes, job losses and pay cuts that have helped condemn the country to record-breaking recession.
Riding a wave of anger from political obscurity to contender for power, radical leftist SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras is threatening to tear up the bailout deal, saying Europe is bluffing when it threatens to cut Greece loose and risk a broader euro breakup.
On the right, establishment heir and New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras, 61, says that to reject the 130 billion euro (163.75 billion US dollar) bailout deal would force a return to the drachma and even greater economic calamity.
Unemployed Yannis Kobogiannis, who is 57 years old, says he will vote for SYRIZA, as he did on the May 6 elections that failed to produce a government because of squabbling over the bailout conditions, because he has lost faith in the traditional parties that have governed Greece for generations - the socialist PASOK and conservative New Democracy.
"I will vote for the same party (as in previous elections) because until now the parties that have been in power did nothing. Now I will vote for another party which I believe might make a change," Kobogiannis said.
For another, Alexandros Kostas, the priority is making sure that Greece is not kicked out of the euro zone - a political criteria which both PASOK and New Democracy have used as the basis of their political campaign.
"Definitely we'll go and vote. Greeks must go and vote because we must remain in euro and the euro zone," said Kostas.
Sunday's election is a vote that could determine not just the future of Greece but also the future of the European single currency itself.
A SYRIZA victory on Sunday could sow turmoil on global financial markets, just as leaders of the Group of 20 world economic powers gather in Mexico for a meeting dominated by the crisis.
Greeks want to keep the euro, but they do not want the pension, wage and jobs cuts imposed by the bailout package and which have seen living standards plummet and unemployment reach almost 23 percent.
One pensioner says he is old enough to have lived through the economic hardship Greece is witnessing today and has kept faith in the older parties.
"The same party I voted (in previous elections) and voted for all these years. I am of an age and have been through hardships and I know what to vote. I will not be carried away now by the new (parties) who say that they'll do this and that," says Panagiotis Grivas, an 80 year old pensioner The country's lenders in the European Union and International Monetary Fund say Greece cannot have bailout funds without the punishing austerity measures.
"In this election as in the previous my criterion remains the same. I will vote for a party that will carry on with the bailouts and the reforms in relation to the bailouts," says a teacher, Petros Rosos, 47.
Messages on the walls of the streets of Athens are stark: the euro zone and the political parties are derided on the face of the university and main thoroughfares of the city.
Widespread disgust at PASOK and New Democracy reflects a lurch to the extremes of the political fringe.
"Let's not live as slaves - revolt now" reads one line from anarchist groups on the front of the Athens Academy.
"Torch the polling booths," screams a line the wall of the city's numismatic museum and "Burn parliament," exhorts another.
Largely ignored by the police who say they have too many other more serious problems - such as a rise in crime - with which to contend, the graffiti is a symptom of a society.
Some of the graffiti, etched on buildings that were going to be pulled down anyway, is admired by locals and the authorities who believe it entertains and enlivens, like one of a joker with a euro-coin popping out of its head.
Others are more artful and cerebral. On Monastiraki square, the starting point for tourists walking to the lively Plaka area, one stencil uses the head of the previous prime minister, Evangelos Venizelos, to call for the demotion of the leader.
Another has a woman carrying baggage emblazoned with homonyms or a clever play on the word party: '"From party to coma is not an option, full stop' it says - the word political party 'komma' sounds the same as the word for coma 'Koma'.
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