(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
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.