Greeks’ Expectations Ahead of July 7 Election (Photos)

In this Saturday, June 22, 2019 photo, Christina Samada, a 75-year-old retired chartered accountant, poses for a photo and answers questions about her expectations of the new government, in her house in Athens. She says: "I worked for 36 years and looked forward to getting a decent pension that would have allowed me a dignified retirement. But the crisis that swept through our country brought pensioners close to, and, in many cases, below, the poverty line. What I expect from the next government is naturally an improvement in pensioners' finances, but above all the following: In education, university studies for all ... In health, better services. In security, better police staffing ... And well-paying jobs for all." (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)

ATHENS (AP) — Still struggling to exit a decade of financial crisis, bailouts and harsh service cutbacks, Greece finds itself at a political turning point.

An early general election on Sunday was initiated by the country’s prime minister after his left-wing party fared badly in May’s European Union elections. Polls forecast the election returning Greece’s largest conservative party to power.

In the days before the vote, The Associated Press approached 12 Greeks of different ages and backgrounds to ask about their expectations from the next government.

In this Wednesday, June 12, 2019 photo, Haralambos Goumas, a 69-year-old sculptor and ceramicist poses for a photo and answers questions about his expectations of the new government, inside his workshop in Athens. He says: “I’ve had a hard time over the past decade with all the austerity measures foisted on us. Even though I’ve reached a pensionable age I continue to work, but again I could only expect a very modest pension. I hope that one day my workshop will fill up with young artists so I can teach them ceramics and sculpture … But to do that I will need help from the government, which unfortunately doesn’t look as if it will be forthcoming. Nevertheless, I am an optimist and believe Greece will progress.” (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)

Details in their answers varied, but education, health care, pensions, better policing, lower taxes and higher salaries were a common thread. They described a government in Athens that operated with less bureaucracy, more professional skill and greater gender equality.

The expectation is that elected officials with the right priorities will be able to stop the brain drain after the country’s economic problems sent hundreds of thousands of qualified young Greeks abroad in search of well-paying jobs.


By PETROS GIANNAKOURIS Associated Press

In this Saturday, June 15, 2019 photo Fragkiskos Koppola, a 24- year-old member of the Presidential Guard poses for a photo and answers questions about his expectations of the new government, inside the Presidential Guards barracks in Athens. He says: “I seek change! During the 1950s and 60s, when Greeks were emigrating massively, parents seeing their children taking off would tearfully exhort them to return one day. Nowadays, parents wholeheartedly wish that their children, who are again going abroad, become successful where they go. Therefore, I hope for a shift in the current financial mood that would stop the exodus of educated young Greeks.” (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)

In this Monday June 24, 2019 photo Martha Markopoulou, a 24-year-old university student, poses for a photo and answers questions about her expectations of the new government, in Athens. She says: “Like most other students in their last year of studies, I find myself in search of a job. … Knowing that I belong to an underprivileged generation because of the economic crisis my country is going through, I realize that the competition is quite big, the job opportunities few and the salaries obviously low. However, I really hope that the situation will get better and that Greece will improve financially so that I am not forced to emigrate.” (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)
In this Friday, June 14, 2019 photo Dimitris Panderis, a 44-year-old car mechanic, poses for a photo and answers questions about his expectations of the new government, in his workshop in Athens. He says: “It’s really hard to be a self-employed professional in Greece. The taxation is unbearable and it’s a constant battle to make ends meet every month, you work more for minimal profit. That’s what we’ve all had to cope with since the day our country signed its first bailout agreement. I hope to see a reduction in tax and social security contributions, which would allow small and medium-sized professionals to regain their footing.” (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)
In this Tuesday June 18, 2019 photo, Evi Razi, a 55- year-old oncologist, poses for a photo and answers questions about her expectations of the new government inside her office in Athens. She says: “What I would like to see in Greece is meritocracy and respect for the law. The number of state employees needs to be reduced and corruption and tax evasion have to be controlled. Medical education needs to be modernized, university professors should be evaluated, as everywhere else, for their teaching ability. … We need a culture of quality control, guideline adherence, as well as a new attitude toward excellence. Finally, we need to allow the middle class and private initiative to grow.” (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)

In this Saturday, June 22, 2019 photo, Vasilis Asimakopoulos, a 36-year-old head of pastry production, poses for a photo and answers questions about his expectations of the new government in his family’s patisserie workshop in Athens. He Says: “I decided after 18 years in London to return to my home city of Athens to get involved with the family pastry business which has a legacy going back over a century. My expectation is to be able to carry this legacy forward in a challenging economic and sociopolitical environment that makes it very difficult for small businesses to survive and thrive.” (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)
In this Friday, June 14, 2019 photo, Androniki Tsoura, a 42- year-old kindergarten teacher poses for a photo and answers questions about her expectations of the new government, in her classroom in Athens. She says: “As teachers we have a moral obligation to provide youngsters with an optimistic view of the world and the future. And that’s what we do. But what do we expect of the government? We want fewer children per class and per teacher …. Better teaching materials, better school facilities that address contemporary requirements and are accessible to all. Better salaries for teachers.” (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)
In this Friday, June 21, 2019 photo, Giannis Grillis, a 67-year-old pensioner, poses for a photo and answers questions about his expectations of the new government, in Athens, inside his traditional tavern, which is now run by his children. He says: “We always had to struggle to make a living. From when my family came to Greece as refugees to the (economic) flourishing before the crisis. These were good times, which we thought would last forever. In my old age, together with my pension, came the bailouts. So what I would like is a better health care system, better education, lower taxes, a better quality of life _ where work is employment, not slavery.” (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)
In this Tuesday June 18, 2019 photo, Ioannis Picoulas, a 55-year-old lawyer poses for a photo and answers questions about his expectations of the new government, inside a court house in Athens. He says: “The past ten years have been hard for everyone in Greece. Unfortunately, developments, both recent and older, leave little ground for high expectations. … We live in a time of low expectations. But that leaves greater leeway for pleasant surprises, and that is the positive aspect to remember.” (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)
In this Monday, June 24, 2019 photo, Captain Ioanna Rotziokou, a 33-year-old spokesperson for the Greek Police poses for a photo and answers questions about her expectations of the new government, inside the Public Order ministry in Athens. She says: “Greece’s police faces a wide variety of challenges, from organized and cross-border crime to human trafficking and drugs. However, throughout my years in the force, what has really shaken me more than anything else is the fatal road accidents … I’ve seen things I will never forget, which have reduced me to tears and frightened me. I hope in the future to see an improvement in the way Greeks drive … What saddens me as a woman is that … gender equality has still not been effectively attained. I would like to see more women reach the top of their profession and fewer women abused.” (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)
In this Thursday, June 20, 2019 photo Anna Zeza, a 43-year-old physical education teacher poses for a photo and answers questions about her expectations of the new government, inside a gym of a school in Athens. She says: “I have been hoping for change for years. Life is truly very hard right now. More work, lower salaries, more worries, greater fear and constant insecurity. I want better living conditions and quality of life for all. Suitable and equal health and education services, and proper handling of immigration.” (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)