2014-05-17 18:59:14

Greeks vote in first-round governmental poll

(Vatican Radio) Greeks go to the polls tomorrow in the first round of local government elections that are expected to mount a strong challenge to the pro-Europe government of Prime Minister Antonis Samaras.

A host of candidates from all parts of the political spectrum are running for mayor and councillor for Athens, the regions and municipalities, as Samaras claims Greece is on the way to economic recovery, but most people have yet to see concrete signs of that.

The leftwing opposition leader, the youthful Alexis Tsipras of the Syriza party, is predicting a discomfiture for Samaras’s coalition of conservatives and socialists, in what is widely seen as a referendum on whether the Greeks are willing to continue the savage austerity of the past five years.

Opinion polls place Syriza a whisker ahead of the Samaras coalition. And that lead could widen as many voters employ the protest vote tactic to send a signal to the government that their patience with the crisis has eroded, with a staggering unemployment rate of 28 percent. The far-right Golden Dawn party is also expected to make a significant showing, as one of its leading figures, the deputy Ilias Kasidiaris, is running for mayor of Athens.

The local polling continues for a second round next Sunday, together with Europe-wide elections for the European Parliament. A good many people here in Athens are prepared to bet that Euroskeptic candidates, left and right, will make strong gains on both Sundays.

Listen to John Carr’s report: RealAudioMP3

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