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Will Elections Change Economic Reforms in Greece?

Greek lawmakers attend the third round of voting to elect a new Greek president at the Parliament in Athens, Dec. 29, 2014. Now a general elections is planned for January 25. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)
Greeks Prepare for Early Elections
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European officials are urging Greece to continue with economic reforms as the country prepares for early elections. The vote was called for this week after Greek lawmakers failed to elect a new president.

Some Greek citizens say they are not looking forward to the elections. Suzanna Steiner is one of them.

She says the vote should not be happening now. It is the worst time for the economy and for security, she says, and everyone is unhappy.

Dakis Voultsis is a businessman. He agrees with Suzanna Steiner.

He says the government should have been left to do its work. But, he says, now that early elections are set for January 25, Greeks will have to decide whom to vote for.

On Monday, parliament failed for the third time to elect a president. The failure forced Prime Minister Antonis Samaras to call for general elections.

His New Democracy Party controls what has been the ruling coalition in Greece. But the Syriza Party is more popular in opinion studies. Syriza says that if it wins control of parliament, “austerity will be history.” For years, the government has cut spending in an effort to solve a major debt crisis.

Alexis Tsipras is the leader of Syriza.

He says the new election will be the beginning of the end for the current leadership. He says the government sank Greece into poverty and worsened unemployment.

The Syriza party says it wants to renegotiate two economic rescue plans -- worth nearly $300 billion. The financial aid came from the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund. They made the aid dependent on Greece enacting strong measures aimed at ending its financial problems.

Opponents, however, say the spending cuts and tax increases have harmed the country. Greece now has an unemployment rate of more than 25 percent.

The economic crisis in Eurozone countries was at its height in 2010 and 2011. At that time, many observers feared that economic unrest in Greece might lead to its withdrawal from the European Union. They feared it could eventually lead to the single monetary union breaking up.

But today, observers say the fears are not so extreme. Dimitris Sotiropolous teaches political science at the University of Athens. He thinks Syriza would negotiate with international lenders and would not risk losing Greece’s place within the Eurozone if it won the election.

“Both competitors for power, New Democracy and Syriza, have pledged their will to stay within the Eurozone and also representatives of major European organs and institutions have already assured Greek government that there is a commitment to have Greece in the Eurozone.”

Germany’s finance minister said this week there is “no alternative” to structural changes in Greece. He warned of difficulties if Greece chose a “different path.” He said new elections will not change the agreements made with the Greek government.

I’m Mario Ritter.

*This report was based on a story from reporter Selah Hennessy in London. George Grow wrote this story for VOA Learning English. Mario Ritter was the editor.


Words in This Story

elections - n. the process of choosing someone for public office
economy - n. the system by which money, industry and trade are organized
parliament - n. a government lawmaking group
poverty - n. the condition of being poor

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