What’s on Greeks Minds? Cell Phones, Crime, Jobs, FYROM Name Deal

FILE - Protesters take part in a rally opposing Greece's name deal with neighbouring FYROM in Athens, Greece, on Sunday, July 1, 2018. (AP Photo/Yorgos Karahalis)

ATHENS – While Greeks in 2018 were increasingly worried about their jobs – or finding one – and rising crime and the deal the ruling Radical Left SYRIZA made to rename the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) what mattered to most is their cell phones.

An end-of-year survey by Athens-based Kapa Research on the top trends for 2018 in the country found 81 percent of respondents said they look at their cell phones within 15 minutes of waking up and are increasingly using them to buy goods online, make bank transactions, read the news and search for information on health issues.

The opinion poll also found the young who didn’t join an exodus that fled to other countries in search of work and a better life as Greece’s economic crisis has gone on more than 8 ½ years are now “guardedly optimistic,” it will get better for them.

For residents of the greater Athens area, crime is the biggest concern for 62 percent of respondents, bad news for Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras who has been accused by political rivals of condoning growing violence, anarchy, terrorism and bombings at the same time he said there hasn’t been a surge in lawlessness. And 52 percent worry about the lack of jobs.

It got worse for Tsipras with the poll showing the deal he made to let FYROM keep the name of the ancient abutting Greek province of Macedonia and be called North Macedonia – and its residents called Macedonians – is a major issue for Greeks with previous surveys showing up to 65 percent opposed.

What’s also troubling Greeks about the agreement is that it has led to a rise in extremists and nationalists after major protest rallies in Athens and in Thessaloniki, the country’s second-largest city and major port, located in the province of Macedonia.

The survey also gave the major opposition New Democracy a 25-20.3 percent lead over SYRIZA, by far the smallest margin with other surveys giving the Conservatives double-dit leads with elections required to be held by October, 2019.

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