The whole of Europe is on tenterhooks as this Sunday, 17th June, Greece will have a second chance to decide upon a new government. After an inconclusive election a month ago, in which the Greek public appeared to shun the two mainstream parties New Democracy and Pasok, this election heralds the growing presence of more extreme parties, from either end of the political spectrum. Political tensions have been running high as the election approaches, culminating in a violent outburst during a morning news broadcast on Antenna TV on Thursday, when the Golden Dawn candidate ended up throwing a glass of water at his rival Syriza candidate and slapping the communist party candidate Liana Kanelli repeatedly round the face. According to Athens News, “The assault came after the guests on the show began trading insults at each other, using the terms “commie” and “fascist”. This incident resulted in a warrant for the candidate, Ilias Kasidiaris’, arrest and Pasok and Syriza’s refusal to participate in any further with Golden Dawn representatives. For the Greek electoral candidates, this election seems to mean war as the need for decisive action from the Greek people necessitates a more hostile approach to campaigning.
However, the question that remains on the lips of many in the lead up to the elections on Sunday regards the repercussions that will be felt not only by Greece but indeed by the entire European community. The economic crisis that has gripped the country along with Spain, Italy, Portugal and the Republic of Ireland in recent months has put significant strain on European relations; Greece has been forced to adopt the harsh austerity measures imposed on them by the EU and the privatisation of their public services as a condition for receiving the bailout money that the country so desperately needs. The outcome of these elections, therefore, could add further problems to the mix as both Syriza and Golden Dawn reject the bailout agreement, which could jeopardise Greece’s place in the Eurozone and its right to keep the euro, which ultimately risks the country’s economic collapse. In addition to this, a repeat performance of the last election could result the creation of a hung parliament, which would not allow the country to benefit from certain parts of the international bailout package.
As the political campaigning draws to a close today, Europe awaits the opening of the polling stations and announcement of results with bated breath. The European Union represents one of the most important trading and political communities in the world and the exit of Greece from its midst would be a significant financial blow in light of its current investment in the country. Furthermore, the rise of political extremes within the country also rings alarm bells for the Union as it holds the potential to erupt in significant ideological clashes within the European community, which could fracture the relations formed between the member states, affecting trade, lines of communication and the political agreements reached by the Union as a whole.
News information sources include the following:
BBC news website
Athens news website.