Eurozone jitters as Greece votes in election

Greeks vote in an early general election on Sunday that threatens to turn the country's decades-old political system on its head and bring the eurozone crisis back with a vengeance.

After two years of austerity cuts, polls indicate that voters are set to punish Greece's two main parties for having accepted yet more belt-tightening in return for two bailouts worth 240 billion euros ($314.0 billion).

Greece has written off a third of its debts and is in its . One in five workers is unemployed, its banks are in a precarious position and pensions and salaries have been slashed by up to 40 percent.

With Portugal and Ireland also getting aid and Italy and Spain on shaky ground too, last year there were worries of some sort of break-up of the eurozone. These fears have subsided in recent months but have not completely disappeared.

Germany, in particular, Europe's paymaster-in-chief and the leading proponent of austerity -- amid growing calls for more focus on growth -- will likely be watching events in Athens just as much as France's election the same day.

In comments widely quoted by Greek newspapers on the eve of Sunday's vote, German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said that if Greece's new government deviated from its commitments the country would have to "bear the consequences."

"Membership of the European Union is voluntary," he said. His boss, Chancellor Angela Merkel, has managed to keep critics over the bailouts at bay so far but fresh eurozone upheaval could very quickly start to erode her popularity.

For markets too, it is Greece's vote rather than whether Francois Hollande succeeds Nicolas Sarkozy as French president that "weighs heavier" in investors' minds, said Valerie Plagnol, Credit Suisse director of research.

Holger Schmieding, economist at Germany's Berenberg Bank, said there was a 40-percent risk of Greece leaving the eurozone this year, with a "high" chance that no stable government willing to implement more reforms can be formed.

Pasok and New Democracy conservatives have alternated in power since the end of a military junta in 1974, but on Sunday a seismic shift is expected with as many as half of the votes going to around 30 smaller parties.

Voters are also fed up with decades of corruption and cronyism, while immigration has also been an issue, raising the prospect that the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn, with a swastika-like emblem and an admiration for Hitler, may enter parliament.

Both Pasok and New Democracy want the "troika" of the European Union, International Monetary Fund and European Central Bank to cut Greece more slack in their bailout deals, but for many smaller parties this does not go far enough.

"We need to break from this corrupt political system of lackeys of foreign imperialism," Petros Alachmar, 31, an activist from far-left Syriza party told AFP. "We have had enough of austerity measures."

But with Athens having committed to finding in June another 11.5 billion euros in savings through 2014, any ambition to renegotiate terms "suggests a degree of liberty they do not have," Swiss bank UBS said in a research note.

New Democracy is expected to win the most votes, but not enough for leader Antonis Samaras to govern without partners. One might be Pasok, its current partner in a stop-gap coalition. Another possibility might be fresh elections.

Polls open at 0400 GMT, with exit polls expected shortly after voting ends at 1600 GMT. The first representative official results are not expected much before 2000 GMT.

Loading...

Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • Billionaire finds wreck of WWII ship in Phl
    Billionaire finds wreck of WWII ship in Phl

    Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen says he has found the Japanese Navy’s biggest warship at the bottom of the sea in the Philippines, 70 years after US forces sank it. Allen posted a photo on Twitter on Tuesday of the World War II battleship Musashi’s rusty bow, which bore the Japanese empire’s Chrysanthemum seal. The American billionaire, who has also pursued space exploration, said his luxury yacht and exploration ship, the M/Y Octopus, found the Musashi one kilometer (1.6 miles) deep on the …

  • Miriam bucks house arrest for Enrile
    Miriam bucks house arrest for Enrile

    Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago believes granting Senate Minority Leader Juan Ponce Enrile house arrest, while former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo remains under hospital detention, will violate the equal protection clause of the Constitution. “That’s already a violation of the equal protection of the law,” she said. …

  • 8 of 10 cities most at risk from natural disasters located in Phl – study
    8 of 10 cities most at risk from natural disasters located in Phl – study

    Eight of 10 world cities most exposed to natural hazards are in the Philippines and more than half of the 100 cities most exposed to earthquakes, storms and other disasters are in four Asian nations, according to a research. The study, published on Wednesday by risk analysis firm Verisk Maplecroft, analyzed the threat posed by storms, floods, earthquakes, tsunamis, fires, volcanoes and landslides in more than 1,300 cities. The study found that the 10 cities most at risk are Port Vila in …

  • World's oldest person wonders about secret to longevity too
    World's oldest person wonders about secret to longevity too

    TOKYO (AP) — The world's oldest person says 117 years doesn't seem like such a long time. …

  • US ambassador recovers from knife attack praised by N. Korea
    US ambassador recovers from knife attack praised by N. Korea

    The US ambassador to South Korea, Mark Lippert, was recovering from surgery Thursday after having his face and arm slashed by a knife-wielding activist in an attack applauded by North Korean state media. The United States condemned the "act of violence" which saw the ambassador rushed to hospital where his condition was described as stable after two-and-a-half hours of surgery that included 80 stitches to a deep gash on his right cheek. During the assault, Kim screamed a slogan in favour of …

  • UNA hits PNP selection process
    UNA hits PNP selection process

    The United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) hit yesterday the apparent machinations in the selection of the new Philippine National Police (PNP) chief. Navotas Rep. Toby Tiangco, UNA interim president, said the administration and the ruling Liberal Party (LP) are perpetuating the bata-bata or patronage system in the selection process of the police chief. “They will start this by maneuvering the appointment of Gen. Garbo as PNP chief,” said Tiangco, referring to one of the top contenders for PNP …

  • Ohio mom, boyfriend guilty; child emailed teacher for help

    PORTSMOUTH, Ohio (AP) — A woman and her boyfriend pleaded guilty to raping her young children and were sentenced to prison on Wednesday, a year after one of her daughters emailed a teacher for help and said she and her siblings were being chained to their beds, deprived of food and sexually assaulted. …

  • New Moro rebel group emerges
    New Moro rebel group emerges

    A radical Muslim cleric trained in the Middle East and considered one of the leaders of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) has broken away from the terror group to form his own band of jihadists who are now reportedly providing sanctuary to bomb expert Basit Usman and at least five foreign militants, the military said yesterday. Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) spokesman Col. Restituto Padilla, citing reports from the field, said the Justice for Islamic Movement (JIM) was …

POLL

Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Loading...
Poll Choice Options