Greeks are determined to use their votes in the European elections but are rapidly losing faith in Europe according the BBC. The corporation sent a reporter to talk to ordinary Greeks in the city of Thessaloniki, where unemployment is running at 30 percent and an economic recovery seems a long way off.
The Greeks go to the polls to elect their 22 Members of the European Parliament on May 25th. The BBC found that older people liked the European Union, but younger people were much more sceptical, especially of continued membership of the Euro.
One unemployed mathematician compared monetary union between Greece and Germany as attempting to put “a lion and a cat in the same cage”. He went on to say: “If I had the solution ready I would not be here giving you the interview. We should leave the euro. They just want to make money out of poor countries.”
For this man the situation was bleak, he described how he could not get married due to lack of money, and could not leave the country due to family commitments. Leaving him at the mercy of an economic system that he knows is unlikely to deliver improvements soon.
Another person in a dire situation is former businessman Stefanos Dimoulas. He owes €50,000 for his failed business and €3000 in medical bills for a rare illness he had. It seems unlikely he will pay these off anytime soon as he now delivers pizzas for living and is paid €3.30 ($4.54) an hour.
Mr Dimoulas did not say who he was going to vote for on the 25th May but he did express frustration that the left-wing party PASOK (Panhellenic Socialist Movement) ended up in coalition government with the centre-right New Democracy Movement. They did so because of pressure from the EU to form a government that would push through austerity measures.
He believes the only solution now is exit from both the Euro and the EU altogether and warned that Greece may “have still further to fall”.
An election candidate for the far-left Antarsya Party, Foteini Rizou, was equally critical of the coalition of left-wingers and Conservatives. “Pasok is no different from New Democracy,” she said. “The left should unite, but Syriza (coalition of radical left) thinks staying in the EU will be good for everyone. Our view is that staying in the EU is really bad for the workers and bad for everyone in the EU.”
Greece joined the European Union in 1981 because its geographic location has long left it feeling vulnerable. It is to the west of its long running rival Turkey and to the south of Albania, both of which are Muslim countries, whereas Greece is Orthodox Christian.
Ordinary Greeks saw the EU as an opportunity to firmly place their country with other European Christian democracies like Germany and France. The problems they have suffered with the Euro have been catastrophic, when they entered monetary union they effectively inflated the value of their currency. Whereas countries like Germany effectively deflated, to create some equilibrium.
This meant that Greek exports such as fruit and tourism became uncompetitive overnight and their economy collapsed. The problem that they face today is that whatever actions they take other nearby countries who are not in the Euro will always be able to undercut them.