Thursday, May 31, 2012

Join Us in Greece! Springtime's Almost Over, Summer is Coming...

It's been a wonderful Springtime in Athens... 
unusually wet, but always a wonderful
time of the year to be in Greece!

The trees have sprung their fresh new leaves... 


Store Windows in bloom...

Streets and cafes in bloom...

Gardens in bloom....

Summer's coming...

What are YOU waiting for?
Join the rest of us 
in the land chosen by the Gods for their home: 
 Greece - Ελλάδα - Hellas!
Greece is safe,
Greece is beautiful,
Greece is unique!
The Greek islands, the Greek Sun and the Greek Beaches are NOT in crisis!

Bring your family, 
Bring a friend,
Let's all help bring the WORLD to Greece this year!  

At Global Greek World We ♥ Greece... and it Shows!
Have a great month!
Kalo Mina!  
Καλό Μήνα!

(c) GlobalGreekWorld 2012 All Rights Reserved

Saturday, May 26, 2012

At Global Greek World We ♥ Greece... and it Shows!

I ♥ Greece...
 My daughter's mark in the sand at Kalyves Beach, Crete...

At Global Greek World, 
We ♥ Greece... and it Shows! 

This Summer just do what's Chic...

It is CHIC to be GREEK! 

Magnificent beaches....

Unique sunsets....

Beautiful Islands.... 

Great food....

Wonderful people...

Join us!!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Greece and the EU Referendum: Do We Stay or Do We Go?

EU Referendum
Do we stay or do we go?

The Greek elections on May 6, 2012, resulted in a non-election of any one particular party and new elections will be held in Greece on June 17, 2012.

Shortly after the elections, and with the entire world discussing the result of the Greek elections, the rising star of Alexis Tsipras, and the possibility of the left coalition SYRIZA coming to power, the ambiguous messages that the various party constituents were  sending out sent people scuttling to their banks to withdraw what few euros had been left in the banking system. 

According to the report/letter filed by outgoing PM Papademos, 700 million euros had been removed from the banking system just in the few days following the election, understandable perhaps but another nail the coffin of the confidence people had in any new government to handle the financial affairs of the country.

The May 6 vote and the rise in the vote to SYRIZA, and Independent Greeks along with the rise in popularity of the Neo Nazi party Chryssi Avgi was nothing more than a protest vote.  It wasn't so much that people were voting FOR these parties, it was more that they were voting AGAINST the two major players - PASOK and Nea Dimokratia - the two parties perceived to be the main perpetrators of the economic tragedy which had befallen Greece in the last few years, and the unprecedented austerity measures imposed on the people as a result.

The percentages gained by SYRIZA, Independent Greeks and Chryssi Avgi surprised the parties themselves, and sent the PASOK and ND leaders Venizelos and Samaras into a cooperation frenzy, which had it happened 3 years ago, may well have saved the economy. 

In the aftermath of the election there was much discussion about Greece's future in the Eurozone and the European Union, with as many conflicting messages coming out of Europe as there were coming out of Greece, with the various EU officials alternating between ear-pulling, cajoling and blackmailing of Greece, the 'naughty child' of Europe, every other day, and the press both inside and outside Greece scaremongering, to say the least.

Friday's 'announcement' that German Chancellor Angela Merkel had asked President Papoulias to have a referendum on whether Greece should stay in the Eurozone/EU or not, the subsequent denials, and thread of denials/undenials was unbelievable. The Spiegel insisted it had happened, but the Chancellor's office is still denying it! 

Hypocritical, considering that this same Chancellor, along with the rest of the EU leaders had lambasted the PM of the time George Papandreou for daring to suggest such a thing on the 26th of October 2011 and was the beginning of the end for him as Prime Minister, even though some labelled it as a brilliant move!

If they were 'smart', they would have called his bluff, despite the crazy timing (which led many in Greece to make a joke of the whole thing at the time - saying that somebody had reversed the order when they gave GAP the instruction sheet**) and let a referendum go ahead... who better than the people to decide their fate?

It might have meant a Grexit, but who's to say that the Greek people would vote for an exit, when, even now, the latest polls say that over 80% of the people want to STAY in the Eurozone? The only reason that SYRIZA and Alexis Tsipras hold appeal for some Greek voters is because he reiterates the need to rewrite any Memorandum of Agreement to bring it to more workable levels. Most of the Greek people know that there need to be major reforms, but in order for those reforms to work, the people have to be on their feet...not down and out, and the economy still breathing not on life support. What is happening is unbelievable, in a country where homeless and soup kitchens were virtually unknown words, suddenly even people who had been relatively well off are in that unenviable position, and more and more people are nouveau poor, nouveau unemployed.

Finally, the spectre of a SYRIZA win has got Europe talking about relaxing some of the repayment conditions, Eurobonds, actual fiscal union and everyone is talking about a Greek exit from the Euro, something that no one seems to want, either inside Greece or out, so why is it being spoken about? Bloomberg has even published a scenario for the exit...

We decided to put it to the people and put a quick poll in our sidebar just after the May 6 Greek elections - wonder if Ms Merkel has been following our blog too... :)


What do YOU think?

What should Greece do?

Please go to our sidebar and vote, then share with your friends, so they can vote too!

**In the meantime, here's the joke we were talking about above: 

Ο Γιωργος είναι καλός πρωθυπουργός αλλά σε REWIND!!..
σκέψου τα όλα με αυτή τη σειρά: 
αρχικά μας ζητάει δημοψήφισμα, 
έπειτα κουρεύει το χρέος κατά 50%, 
τέλος παίρνει και 110 δις από το ΔΝΤ και 
μετά ανακοινώνει πως "Λεφτά υπάρχουν!" ... 
ποιος του έδωσε ανάποδα το ντοσιέ ??!!!!!!!

GAP is a good PM but in REWIND! 
Think about it all, in this order: 
Firstly he asks for a referendum, 
then he gets a 50% 'haircut', 
finally he gets 110 billion from the IMF and 
then he announces 'The funds exist - LEFTA YPARHOYN'... 
who the hell gave him the file upside down?!!!

The results on 16 June 2012 - the day our Poll closed, one day before the Greek elections, which effectively confirmed that the majority of Greeks want to stay in the Eurozone ...

Greece and Europe: If there was a referendum tomorrow in Greece how would you vote?

Stay in the EU, Stay in the Eurozone
  73 (51%)
Stay in the EU, Leave the Eurozone
  39 (27%)
Leave the EU, Leave the Eurozone
  26 (18%)
Don't know/Undecided
  5 (3%)

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Seeking Leadership, Heroism, Courage, and Unity, in Greece's Politicians Today

 Excerpt from the Greek Presidency's Calendar

At 2pm today Greece's President Papoulias hosted the latest meeting of Greece's political chiefs, Samaras, Tsipras, Venizelos, Kouvelis, and Kammenos. The people of Greece and the rest of the world waited with bated breath today, as they have done for the last 10 days, to see whether there would be any result from today's  meeting with the President of the Republic, Karolos Papoulias at the President's official residence in Herodus Atticus Street.

The people of Greece spoke on May 6 and spoke very loudly - the vote split and the message was clear:  

We don't know who we want, but we do know that we don't want ONE of you to govern, we don't trust you! 

Instead of being perturbed by the rise of the extreme Right Wing Xrysi Avgi and seeking ways to eradicate the causes of this rise, instead of listening to the voters' message and acting on it, the Chiefs, (we call them Chiefs because we cannot refer to any of them as leaders... they are anything but LEADERS), continue to squabble, playing out their childish egotistical games of oneupmanship and petty party politics, trying to hold on to a system that is clearly in its death throes, at the expense of the Greek people and the Greek economy.

Displaying an unbelievable level of immaturity, arrogance, a distinct lack of leadership,  responsibility and lack of commitment to the country they have chosen to serve, they appeared unable, or rather unwilling, to find common ground in order to form a coalition government for the good of our homeland, to help this amazing country get out of the downward spiral and go forward.

Instead of uniting for the common good, as mandated by the people, each of these men insisted on going in different directions with a different agenda but without any clear cut plan or solution for a way out of the crisis...

Flashback to 2011...

 New Zealand Veterans hosted by President Papoulias in the Leaders' Room
PhotoSource: ANA-MPA

At the same time exactly, at 2pm, one year ago, and in the very same room, President Papoulias hosted a group of very different men from the other side of the world.

The President of Greece welcomed Bill Bristow, Brant Robinson, Roye Hammond, Jim Wilson and Bain McKay as the heroes they were and paid tribute to them...

 President Papoulias welcomes the NZ Battle of Crete Veterans to Greece
Source: New Zealanders in Greece

A group of men, all over 90 years of age, New Zealand Veterans of the 1941 Battle of Crete, who had come to Greece from the other side of the world on a pilgrimage, an Enduring Legacy Pilgrimage, a voyage of remembrance....

They were in Greece to commemorate the 70th Anniversary of that epic battle.            

Many of those soldiers fell in the course of duty and were buried in Greece, in Souda Bay in Crete, in Alimos in Athens and in other places around Greece.

Many survived, assisted by Cretan civilians risking their own lives, and escaped over the tough Cretan mountains to safety in Africa.

They didn't forget and came back to Greece to thank those who helped them, honour those that fell and above all remember...

What united these men, these valiant men, who in their 20's had come to the other side of the world in 1941, to fight a war that wasn't really theirs, was their belief in Freedom and Democracy, and their belief in creating a better place for their children.

United and with a common goal, they defended those principles in the very country that invented democracy and gave it to the world, and in doing so, assisted in changing the course of World War II, something very few believed could happen.

Our political chiefs would do well to pause and reflect... rediscover their values and their ethos, and get to work to save Greece.

The 90 year old heroes from New Zealand should serve as examples of selfless and courageous heroism, willing to sacrifice themselves for the future of their country, for the future of their children.

Our political chiefs would do well to do the same, put aside their differences, unite and work together, for the future of Greece, for the sake of their children and ours...

Source: New Zealanders in Greece

Related Articles:

The Battle for Crete:70 Years On - As Relevant as Ever

Ned and Katina: A Real-Life Love Story that started with the Battle of Crete

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Live From Olympia Tomorrow: London 2012 Olympic Flame Lighting Ceremony

Photo Source: Sakis Kostaris
From Olympic Torch Lighting Ceremony for Vancouver 2010

Photo Source: Sakis Kostaris
From Olympic Torch Lighting Ceremony for Vancouver 2010

Watch the Olympic Flame lighting ceremony from Olympia here live on May 10 from 10.00 CET onwards!

 or click here for live Streaming by Ustream

Sunday, May 6, 2012

General Elections 2012: Critical Decisions for the Future of Greece

Lambros Kostandaras as Andreas Mavrogialouros - the consummate Greek politician

Today is Election Day in Greece and we go to the polls after over two years of crisis after crisis, across the board austerity, austerity without justice, two years of a government in paralysis which could not find any options apart from resorting to the IMF, a government whose ineptitude exposed Greek citizens all over the world to undeserved ridicule and humiliation, a government which preferred to sustain a bloated, corrupt, greedy and self-satisfied public sector where service was simply a euphemism, thus creating a class of new poor and homeless rather than clean up its act, make a fresh start, draw a line and put an end to years of the cronyism which got it to this point. 

An unprecedented rise in people looking through garbage bins, lines in soup kitchens and suicides have left people wondering where they too will end up and how they are going to feed their families if they too should suddenly become unemployed and unable.  

The Greek government's inability to create jobs and attract investments to keep it's young and highly educated professionals in Greece to work for Greece's future, effectively reversed the trend of the previous 20 years which saw Greeks repatriating, and a new generation of emigres, Greece's young people and professionals, people with ability and talent started to look abroad for employment.

Europe too has its share of the blame, instead of acting quickly to nip what started out as a credit crisis in the bud by standing firmly behind its EU allies, its indecisive and inept leadership ummed and ahhd for months, allowing the spreads to rise dangerously and the markets to go haywire while all Greeks were branded as lazy, coffee drinking, tax evading beach bums. 

Demonstration after demonstation and the resulting violence didn't help Greece's case either.

Two years ago today in fact, on May 6, 2010, one of these demonstrations ended in tragedy when thugs threw Molotov cocktails (petrol bombs) at a Marfin bank building in the centre of Athens, torching the building and causing three people and an unborn baby to lose their lives...

We were all branded hot heads and hooligans, and the whole of Greece a hotbed of violence, violence
which was projected all over the world with great zeal by the world's media, nevermind that most of the demonstration violence was concentrated in little pockets around Syntagma Square and one or two blocks down the road people were able to sit at cafes peacefully continuing to drink their coffee. 

All this culminated last November with the resignation of elected PM George Papandreou and the appointment of Loukas Papademos as caretaker Prime Minister in order to get austerity measures and Memoranda passed to ensure liquidity and avoid 'official' bankruptcy. 

Public prosecutors and special investigation units have uncovered major scandals in the last few months and there seems to be some willingness to bring the perpetrators to justice. With the jailing of former Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos, his wife and daughter a thread has begun to unravel. We hope Akis will not accept to be the only victim and that he will spill all the beans, taking his fellow 'untouchables' in power who didn't hesitate to put their hand in the honey jar of public sector corruption down with him and thus beginning the catharsis essential to Greece's new beginnings. 

It is time to think of all these things before casting our votes today for those of us who vote in
GreeceNow it is up to us to speak. 

As we set off to the polling booth, we will repeat here, what we wrote on the day of the 2009 elections, simply because it is all still valid:

Our only criteria is what's best for
Greece and our people, both in Greece and all over the world. Whichever party wins the elections, (if anyone does) we want them to put Greece and it's interests, both domestic and international, above everything else and that means taking many decisive and effective steps starting from Day 1! 

Greece does not have the luxury of time to grant any government 100 days to adjust!

Steps must be taken to save the economy from it's downward spiral and this involves a lot of things:

imposing and collecting taxes equitably, from each and everyone who earns income and not just the salaried employees (who have been milked dry by the barrage of extra taxes demanded in the last two years),

cracking down on all those who seek and get payments on the side, forcing people to bear unbearable debt burdens just so that they can obtain medical treatment or education for themselves or their loved ones, things to which they are entitled as part of a functional and organised society,

collecting social security payments from all, employees and public or private sector employers alike, to ensure continuity of pensions and benefits for those who qualify,

ensuring that everyone gets paid fairly, and does the work they are paid to do, whether they are in the public or private sector, whether or not they are related to, or political cronies of, the people in power,

ensuring that the public service is streamlined and brought down to manageable proportions so that it is not a burden to the National Economy by appointing employees based on their qualifications and their ability to do their job, not who they know, and by providing objectives and incentives to all employees, to ensure the high quality of the services provided to the public-at-large

and above all,

enforcing the laws of the country which should be applicable to everyone irrespective of the status of the person involved, rich or poor, whether they have connections to the corridors of power or not. Justice has to be seen to be done, quickly and equitably to be effective.

We personally will applaud any government that puts an end to the endemic corruption in our country and which effectively has placed us in this unenviable position. It is time to act to change all this and it needs to be changed from the top down!

The best way to lead is by example… let's hope all those politicians who have put their name forward for election remember this if they get elected.

Think, and above all, vote wisely - for Greece's sake, for our sake!

Kali Psifo :)

For those who love the classic Black and White Greek Movies here is one of our favourites, timeless frighteningly appropriate, especially in view of the corruption scandals that have occurred over the years and particularly those that have come to light more recently. It's a political satire, ' Yparhei kai Filotimo' with Lambros Konstandaras as Andreas Mavrogialouros, the consummate Greek politician...

Andreas Mavrogialouros is a minister of the Greek government who goes to visit a small village for the inauguration of a local maternity clinic. Going there he gets more than he bargained for but in the process discovers that his associates have been fooling him for years, using state funds to accumulate riches for themselves... 

Sound familiar? The film is over 50 years old and not much appears to have changed since then, but we are hopeful that this time they will...we no longer have the luxury of indulgence.... 

We at Global Greek World are hoping that our politicians have finally got the message and are genuinely ready to shed the dreadful image the people have of them. We are hoping that from tomorrow Greece will have a stable government that will change things for the better...


A Full Moon and General Elections in Greece: A Good Omen?

Beautiful full moon in the sky this evening over Athens, Greece...

Heard on the radio today that the moon is the closest it has been to Earth for many years, the last couple of times it has been so close was in 2001 when the 9/11 tragedy happened and the previous when the Titanic sunk... both major disasters!

Hope tonight's full moon is a good omen for Greece as our people get ready for the most difficult and crucial vote in it's post dicatorship years.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

General Elections in Greece: Read, Analyse, Reflect...then Vote!

We thought we would share with you this great profile put together by the English Edition of Kathimerini of the main parties running in tomorrow's Greek elections and which have a chance of getting into Parliament. We added Dimiourgia Xana which wasn't in the original list because we think there is quite a bit of support for this party and the things it stands for.


Founded: 1974
Leader: Evangelos Venizelos

Brief history: The Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) was formed by Andreas Papandreou following the collapse of the military dictatorship in 1974 and grew to be the dominant force in Greek politics for the next 38 years. It came to power in 1981 and became synonymous with a state-centric economic model and the broadening of the public sector. Heading the party’s so-called “modernizing” wing, Costas Simitis succeeded Papandreou in 1996. He led Greece into the euro on the back of some belt-tightening but made way for George Papandreou, Andreas’s son, before the 2004 elections as PASOK began to flag after many years in office and was unable to shake off its association with corruption. Following a period of unsure leadership, George Papandreou was elected prime minister in 2009 but soon had to deal with a major debt crisis that led to Greece being bailed out by the EU and IMF. PASOK’s reliance on higher taxes rather than public reforms and spending cuts to reduce Greece’s deficit undermined the party’s popularity further. Papandreou resigned as prime minister last November and as PASOK leader earlier this year. He was succeeded by one-time leadership rival and former Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos.

Main campaign points: Venizelos says he will ask the EU and IMF to extend Greece’s fiscal adjustment period by one year, until 2015, in order to ease the impact on taxpayers. He has also presented a “National Regeneration Plan” which is based on a reformed tax system that will remain stable for 10 years and will ease the burden on low income earners and pensioners. PASOK also advocates incentives for young people to turn to farming and steps to increase liquidity for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). The party has pledged to clamp down on illegal immigration and Greece's citizens' protection minister, a Socialist, recently announced plans to create 30 detention centers to house undocumented immigrants, who don't qualify for asylum, before they are deported. There is not much left of Papandreou's “green growth” policies in PASOK's new program.

Campaign slogan: Greeks are trying and will succeed
2009 election result: 43.92 percent
April 20 opinion poll rating: 14 percent

New Democracy

Founded: 1974
Leader: Antonis Samaras

Brief history:
The conservative party was founded in 1974 by veteran politician Constantine Karamanlis, who became Greece’s first prime minister following the fall of the military dictatorship. Karamanlis stepped aside in 1980 and the party suffered a series of election defeats at the hands of PASOK before Constantine Mitsotakis led it to power in 1990. But his turbulent period in office ended in 1993 when an ND mutiny led by Antonis Samaras triggered the government's collapse and PASOK's return to power. Costas Karamanlis, nephew of Constantine, led the party to a narrow election defeat in 2000. In 2004, however, he became Greece’s youngest prime minister thanks to a big election win and a policy of appealing to the middle ground. However, Karamanlis’s government largely struggled to deliver on the economic and public sector reforms it had promised and in its later stages became embroiled in corruption scandals. It suffered a landslide defeat in 2009, leaving behind a burgeoning public deficit and debt. Rehabilitated after a long period in the political wilderness, Samaras succeeded Karamanlis and quickly sought to move the party to the right. New Democracy opposed the first EU-IMF bailout but last November reluctantly joined the coalition government that negotiated the second loan agreement.

Main campaign points: Samaras argues that the terms of the EU-IMF loan deal do not allow enough scope for growth. He advocates a 15 percent flat tax for business and the lowering of VAT. He also supports a fully fledged privatization program and has suggested that some 11 billion euros in savings that Greece has to make in 2013 and 2014 can come from slashing public sector waste. New Democracy has pledged to tighten up immigration rules and repeal a law allowing second-generation migrants to claim Greek citizenship. Samaras, who does not shy away from references to “God” or “the nation,” has sought to ramp up the conservatives' ethical message, promising to do away with deputies' parliamentary immunity from prosecution and set up a parliamentary committee to investigate past misdeeds that led to the country's economic meltdown.

Campaign slogan: Greece is going to make it
2009 election result: 33.48 percent
April 20 opinion poll rating: 21.5 percent

Communist Party of Greece (KKE)

Founded: 1918
Leader: Aleka Papariga

Brief history: Founded in the wake of the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia, the Greek Communist Party was initially known as the Socialist Labor Party of Greece. It adopted Marxist-Leninist principles in 1924 and has since functioned according to democratic centralism.
It played a significant role in the formation of trade unions but the party was outlawed by dictator Ioannis Metaxas in 1936. Members of KKE played a significant role in Greece’s resistance to the Nazi occupation in World War II but political differences then sparked the civil war, which ended in 1949 and led to KKE being outlawed again. It did not regain legal status until the collapse of the military dictatorship in 1974. However, the Communist Party split into two: the “exterior,” which took its lead from Moscow, and the “interior,” which developed a more independent voice. The latter merged in 1989 with other leftist parties to form the Synaspismos coalition, which later became part of SYRIZA. KKE has maintained a staunch Marxist-Leninist line since then, refusing to cooperate with other parties -- even to organize strikes or demonstrations -- and insisting on nothing less than the overthrow of the capitalist system.

Main campaign points: KKE is the only party to openly favor a Greek exit from the eurozone and the European Union, arguing that the Arab Spring has opened up other avenues of cooperation. It wants a freeze on all private debts to the banks and the state until Greece exits the crisis, a minimum pension of 1,150 euros and a freeze on privatizations. Party leader Aleka Papariga says KKE will not take part in any coalition government and that voters should back her party so it can obstruct the imposition of measures that would damage workers’ interests and incomes. KKE wants to legalize immigrant workers and grant asylum to the victims of imperialist wars. It advocates scrapping Dublin II regulations, which enable European governments to send illegal immigrants back to the first EU country of entry.

Campaign slogan: Fight back
2009 election result: 7.54 percent
April 20 opinion poll rating: 11 percent

Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS)

Founded: 2000
Leader: Giorgos Karatzaferis

Brief history: LAOS, a right-wing nationalist party, was formed by Giorgos Karatzaferis in 2000 after he was expelled from New Democracy following his criticism of party leader Costas Karamanlis. While LAOS initially espoused an ultra-nationalist line and welcomed members with an extremist past, the party has -- at least publicly -- gradually eased some of its rhetoric, although it remains hardline on the immigration issue. LAOS was the only party apart from PASOK to vote in favor of the first bailout in 2010 and became a junior partner in the coalition government formed last November. Karatzaferis, however, decided to quit the administration shortly before the second loan agreement was voted in Parliament. In the process, LAOS lost its two most prominent MPs -- Makis Voridis and Adonis Georgiadis -- to New Democracy. Karatzaferis’s equivocal stance over the last few months led to a serious dip in LAOS’s poll ratings.

Main campaign points: LAOS is still a party that is based around the ubiquitous Karatzaferis, who is adept at using media coverage to his advantage. The party wants the mass repatriation of illegal immigrants in a bid to curb crime and unemployment, and has called for a change in the law to allow victims to shoot robbers. LAOS has said that the next Greek government should negotiate a new haircut with its lenders so that its debt falls to between 100 and 120 billion euros, or about a third of what it is now. It wants Germany to pay war reparations for crimes committed by the Nazi regime during its invasion of Greece in World War II.

Campaign slogan: Everything for Greece
2009 election result: 5.63 percent
April 20 opinion poll rating: 3 percent

Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA)

Founded: 2004
Leader: Alexis Tsipras

Brief history: SYRIZA was born out of the cooperation of a number of leftist groups, some with their roots in communist movements. Following a bumpy start, the coalition more than doubled the number of its MPs to 14 in the 2007 elections under the leadership of Alekos Alavanos. A year earlier, Alavanos had placed 30-year-old Alexis Tsipras on the party’s ticket for municipal elections in Athens to some success. In 2007, Tsipras was elected party leader at the improbable age of 33 and the party’s poll ratings soared as voters appeared encouraged by the leftists’ youthful look. However, this attraction proved fleeting and SYRIZA’s support dropped slightly in the 2009 elections, partly on the back of Tsipras adopting an equivocal stance during the unrest in December 2008 that followed the fatal shooting of a 15-year-old boy in Athens by a police officer. SYRIZA suffered a further blow in 2010, when four experienced MPs quit the party to form a new movement, Democratic Left, due to concerns about positions on a number of issues, most notably Greece’s relationship with the EU. In recent months, SYRIZA, which opposes the terms of the EU-IMF bailout, has seen its poll ratings rise again.

Main campaign points:
Tsipras, who hopes he can lead SYRIZA to third place in the elections, has said he would accept support from the right-wing Independent Greeks if there were a possibility of forming a left-wing government that would oppose the terms of the new bailout. Although fuzzy on the question of keeping the euro, SYRIZA supports Greece's membership of the European Union, but opposes the belt-tightening measures mandated by the memorandum. It proposes sustainable economic policies, it rejects the EU's reformed Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), it envisages the regeneration of workers' cooperatives, and rejects the deregulation of maritime transport. SYRIZA is in favor of abolishing the Dublin II treaty, legalizing all immigrant workers and speeding up the asylum process. The party advocates a change in the voting system and is in favor of a simple proportional representation, which would give all parties seats in Parliament based directly on their share of the vote.

Campaign slogan: They chose without us, we’re moving on without them
2009 election result: 4.60 percent
April 20 opinion poll rating: 13 percent

Ecologist Greens

Founded: 2002
Leader: Six-member committee led by Ioanna Kontouli

Brief history: Unlike some other European Union countries, the Greens have found it difficult to break into the political mainstream in Greece. Their most significant achievements were in 2009 when they won a seat in the European Parliament and more than doubled their support in the national elections despite falling short of entering the Greek Parliament.

Main campaign points:
The Ecologist Greens favor a move to more sustainable development and the creation of jobs through “green growth.” They are calling for more emphasis to be placed on organic farming and sustainable fishing and for Greece to make better use of its renewable energy sources. In terms of economic policy, the Greens favor higher taxation for large incomes and lower taxes for SMEs. They propose lending from the European Central Bank and the issuing of eurobonds as a means of overcoming the debt crisis. Their stance would make them a potential coalition partner for a left-leaning government. The party wants a common immigration and asylum policy for the EU and a revision of the Dublin II treaty. It is in favor of decriminalizing drug use and the cultivation of drugs, particulalry marijuana, for personal use.

Campaign slogan:
Think clearly
2009 election result: 2.53 percent
April 20 opinion poll rating: 3.5 percent

Democratic Left

Founded: 2010
Leader: Fotis Kouvelis

Brief history: Democratic Left was formed when four MPs quit SYRIZA in 2010 to form a more clearly pro-European movement. The party is led by Fotis Kouvelis, who briefly served as justice minister in the past. His mild-mannered approach has proved popular with many voters. Until April 20, Kouvelis was the only party leader with an approval rating of more than 50 percent. The party recently attracted several PASOK MPs who were ousted from the Socialists for voting against the new bailout. Kouvelis has ruled out having a fully fledged role in a coalition government with ND and PASOK but has hinted that Democratic Left might provide support in Parliament if agreement can be reached on certain policies.

Main manifesto points: Democratic Left rejects Greece's bailout deal but is keen on the country's eurozone membership. It advocates finding the 11 billion euros in savings for 2013 and 2014 from alternative sources, such as modest improvements in fighting tax evasion, corruption and cutting public waste. It calls for the introduction of eurobonds and a more active role for the ECB. On the issue of illegal immigration, it wants a revision of Dublin II and the repatriation of undocumented immigrants.

Campaign slogan:
The responsible left
2009 election result: N/A
April 20 opinion poll rating:
9.5 percent

Independent Greeks

Founded: 2012
Leader: Panos Kammenos

Brief history: Independent Greeks is a right-wing nationalist party that was formed by ousted New Democracy MP Panos Kammenos in February. Kammenos, known for his bombastic style, believes that Greece was the victim of an international conspiracy and that the EU-IMF bailouts have allowed its lenders to exploit the country. Kammenos, whose party platform was first unveiled on Facebook, has labeled the politicians who negotiated the bailouts -- especially former Prime Minister George Papandreou -- as “traitors.” He has attracted to his party 10 fellow deputies who were also expelled from ND and has enjoyed a rapid rise in the opinion polls, aided by his effective use of social media. Kammenos has suggested he would be willing to work with leftist SYRIZA -- despite being on different ends of the ideological spectrum -- since both parties oppose the EU-IMF memorandum. Kammenos has already struck cooperation with the tiny leftist party People’s Chariot (Arma Politon).

Main manifesto points: Kammenos has called for the nationalization of the Bank of Greece and the creation of a Greek investment bank that would protect the country’s property from being seized by its lenders. He has said he wants to drive the IMF out of Greece. Kammenos insists the country can cover any funding gap by getting advance payments for the oil and gas reserves which are currently the subject of exploration missions. He has been highly critical of Berlin, seeking payment of German war reparations. Kammenos has vowed to investigate whether Greek officials colluded with speculators to profit from a Greek default. He has had little to say on the migration issue, save sporadic calls for a European response to the problem.

Campaign slogan: We are many, we are independent, we are Greeks
2009 election result: N/A
April 20 opinion poll rating: 11 percent

Chrysi Avgi (Golden Dawn)

Founded: 1993
Leader: Nikos Michaloliakos

Brief history: Party leader Nikos Michaloliakos had been active in far-right politics for a number of years before Chrysi Avgi was officially recognized as a party in 1993. He met with leaders of the 1967-74 military junta while serving a jail sentence for illegal possession of explosives and has said he was “proud” to serve in the same jail wing as the imprisoned colonels. The party expresses open admiration for the 1936-41 dictatorship led by Ioannis Metaxas and associates itself closely with Nazi ideology and imagery, although Michaloliakos insists he is only a nationalist who is fighting the “new world order” and corruption in Greek politics. Chrysi Avgi has advocated vigilantism in the past and party members have been tried for attacks on leftists and immigrants. The party gained its first major electoral breakthrough in the local elections of 2010 when Michaloliakos won a seat on the Athens municipal council. The party has campaigned heavily in parts of central Athens where some residents feel threatened by rising crime and the concentration of undocumented immigrants.

Main campaign points:
Chrysi Avgi is opposed to the EU-IMF loan deal but does not favor an exit from the eurozone at this point. Its main focus has been on calling for the expulsion of all illegal immigrants from Greece. It wants land mines placed on the Greek-Turkish border to stop illegal immigrants entering the country. Michaloliakos told NET TV that he believes second-generation immigrants born in Greece should be allowed to live in Greece but not have the right to vote or stand for office. Michaloliakos says that once his party is in Parliament it will create private security firms to patrol working-class Athens neighborhoods and medical centers to provide treatment to the poor. Chrysi Avgi calls for the cancellation of Greece's bailouts and erasing of any debt accumulated since 1974 that is deemed “illegal and odious.”

Campaign slogan:
So we can rid the land of filth
2009 election result: 0.29 percent
April 20 opinion poll rating: 5.5 percent

Democratic Alliance

Founded: 2010
Leader: Dora Bakoyannis

Brief history: Former Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis was expelled from New Democracy for voting in favor of the first EU-IMF bailout despite instructions from the man that beat her to the party leadership, Antonis Samaras, to the contrary. Bakoyannis set up Democratic Alliance as a liberal centrist party that aimed to be a halfway house between PASOK and ND. Despite attracting some conservative MPs to her party, Bakoyannis has enjoyed extremely limited success with her venture. Democratic Alliance supports an agenda of structural and political reform but voters appear unconvinced that Bakoyannis, an established political figure whose father -- Constantine Mitsotakis -- served as prime minister, can represent the change she espouses.

Main manifesto points:
Democratic Alliance has backed Greece's loan agreements, deeming support as critical for keeping the country in the EU and the eurozone. The party wants a smaller government, with fewer civil servants, and has called for a single 20 percent tax rate for all Greek citizens. It would like to see more privatizations, further deregulations of closed professions, and a new legal framework regarding strikes and the operation of unions. The party says no more migrants should be admitted to the country until 2020, while calling for the immediate processing of all outstanding asylum applications. Bakoyannis supports the reduction of the number of MPs from 300 to 200.

Campaign slogan:
It’s not your fault, it’s the state’s, so change it
2009 election result: N/A
April 20 opinion poll rating: 2 percent


Founded: 2009
Leader: Stefanos Manos

Brief history: Founded in 2009 by former Economy Minister Stefanos Manos, the liberal Drasi attracted less than 40,000 votes at the European Parliament elections that year and did not take part in the subsequent legislative elections. Manos started his political career as a New Democracy MP in the 1970s, but after serving in government in the early 1980s and 1990s he attempted to form his own movement. Its lack of success led to Manos later standing for election on the PASOK ticket. Manos, who is the party's only professional politician, was one of the first advocates of a privatization program and has repeatedly called for widespread public sector reform but has found it difficult to make his message resonate with voters. Drasi recently joined forces with the smaller Liberal Alliance, led by gay and human rights activist Grigoris Valianatos.

Main manifesto points: Drasi backs many of the policies in the EU-IMF memorandum, including tighter fiscal discipline, privatizations and state sector layoffs. Manos has proposed the abolition of employer and employee social security fund (IKA) contributions. He supports granting every citizen a pension of 700 euros at the age of 67. Drasi proposes the legalization of drugs and gay marriage, and wants citizenship granted to all foreigners born in the country. It says the school curriculum must be redesigned in a way that does not cultivate a religious and national conscience.

Campaign slogan: We are citizens, not customers
2009 election result: N/A
April 20 opinion poll rating: 1.5 percent

Social Pact

Founded: 2012
Leaders: Louka Katseli & Haris Kastanidis

Brief history: Social Pact was formed in March by two former ministers who were ousted from PASOK for opposing the new bailout. Ex-Economy Minister Louka Katseli and former Justice Minister Haris Kastanidis formed that party to give a voice to disgruntled PASOK supporters but their late start compared to Democratic Left is one of the reasons that Social Pact will struggle to make an impact at the ballot box.

Main campaign points: Social Pact says Greece’s membership of the euro is “not negotiable.” However, it opposes the austerity attached to the country’s bailout programs and has called for measures that support growth and social justice. Kastanidis, a close associate of ex-Prime Minister George Papandreou, insists that the former premier had been right to call a referendum on Greece’s eurozone membership. Kastanidis was one of those who advised Papandreou to propose the idea, which triggered the latter’s downfall.

Campaign slogan: For Greece, in Europe
2009 election result: N/A
April 20 opinion poll rating: N/A

Source: Kathimerini English Edition

 Recreate Greece (Dimiourgia Xana)

Founded: 2012
Leaders: Thanos Tzimeros

Running on a reformist platform, the people running with this party describe themselves  as 'productive people who have never been sustained by state largesse, and who envision a meritocratic and progressive state. We are successful entrepreneurs, corporate executives, professionals, scientists, intellectuals and conscientious public servants who cannot continue to support the parasites within their midst. We are not household names. However, each one of us has built islets of creativity and quality, in his family, his business and in his immediate environment. We know that there are many people in Greece who think and live their lives as we do. And we know that they are many more than it appears. They do not break store windows, they do not scream on television debates, they do not block roads, and they do not occupy buildings. They only feel pain and sorrow. They are the people we represent, the people on whom we rely, and the people we want with us.'

They pledge to do away with cronyism and corruption in the public sector and create a meritocratic state staffed by people qualified and willing to offer their services to the citizens.

Campaign slogan: No to the professionals of politics

2009 election result: N/A
April 20 opinion poll rating: N/A

Friday, May 4, 2012

General Elections in Greece: Keep Calm and Think ...

In complete contrast to their significance, Greece's General Elections on Sunday May 6 will be remembered for their very low-key-for-fear-of-flying-yoghurts election campaigning compared to the crowd-rousing, square-filling, flag waving, slogan chanting and demagoguery of all the previous years.

Anyone who has lived through election campaigns in Athens in the 80's and 90's know what we're talking about. 

Anyone who has ever heard PASOK Founder Andreas Papandreou address and rouse the crowds will know the feeling... there's nothing anywhere near that in these elections. PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos was to address the crowds in Syntagma this evening, but you could hardly tell...

An unprecedentented number of 32 parties, coalitions and individual candidates will be asking for our vote at Sunday's General Election, made up of 5 main parties and many splinter groups which branched out 
from the two main parties after crossing party lines in the memorandum votes.

The parties and their leaders (with links to the party's website or Wikipedia entry) that will contest the election are:
  1. Panhellenic Socialist Movement (Pasok), Evangelos Venizelos
  2. New Democracy (ND), Antonis Samaras
  3. Communist Party of Greece (KKE), Aleka Papariga
  4. Radical Left CoalitionUnitary Social Movement (Syriza), Alexis Tspiras
  5. Popular Orthodox Rally (Laos), Yiorgos Karatzaferis
  6. Democratic Alliance, (Dimokratiki Symmahia) Dora Bakoyannis
  7. Social Pact, (Koinoniki Symfonia) Louka Katseli
  8. Independent Greeks, (Anexartitoi Ellines) Panos Kammenos
  9. Democratic Left, (Dimokratiki Aristera) Fotis Kouvelis
  10. Drasi [Action]Liberal Alliance, Stefanos Manos and Grigoris Vallianatos
  11. Ecologists–Greens (Ecogreens Oikologoi Prasinoi), six-member committee
  12. Union of Centrists, (Enosi Kentrou)  Vassilis Leventis
  13. Liberal Party, K. Kaligiannis
  14. Popular Union–Golden Dawn (Chrysi Avgi), Nikolaos Michaloliakos
  15. Dimosthenis Vergis–Greek Ecologists, Dimosthenis Vergis
  16. Ochi [Democratic Revival and United Popular Front (Epam)], Stelios Papathemelis a
  17. "Can’t Pay, Won’t Pay" Movement, (Den Plirono) Vasilis Papadopoulos
  18. National Resistance Movement (KEAN), Ippokratis Savvouras
  19. Communist Party of Greece (Marxist-Leninist)Marxist-Leninist Communist Party of Greece (KKE (m-l)–ML KKE), four-member committee
  20. Anticapitalist Left Cooperation for the Overthrow (Antarsia), 21-member ctte
  21. Organisation of Communist Internationalists of Greece (OKDE), 3-member ctte
  22. Workers Revolutionary Party (EEK Trokskyists), Sabetai Matsas
  23. Organisation for the Reconstruction of the Communist Party of Greece (OAKKE),
  24. National Unity Association (SEE), N. Alikakos
  25. Koinonia [Society: Political Party of the Successors of Kapodistria], Michail Iliadis
  26. Pirate Party of Greece,  I. Papagoupous
  27. Dimiourgia Xana (Recreate Greece), Thanos Tzimeros
  28. Panathinaikos Movement (Panki), Yiorgos Betsikas
  29. Axioprepeia [Dignity] (Alliance of independent candidates), Panayiotis Theodoropoulos
  30. Renewing Independent Left, Renewing Right, Renewing Pasok, Renewing New Democracy, No to War, Party of Action I Give Away Land, I Give Away Debts, Save Lives, Panagrarian Labour Movement of Greece (Paeke) Miltiadis Tzalazidis
  31. Regional Urban Development (PAA), Nikos Kolitsis (sole candidate)
  32. Athanasios Daskalopoulos (Independent)
Check out the links above from the Athens News , read up on the candidates and then go vote, but above all, remember to....

... For Greece's sake and ours!


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