Greeks Still Grim About Future

Greeks aren’t buying Prime Minister Antonis Samaras’ self-proclaimed “success story,” that the economy is going to get better and that their lives will one of these years too.

Buried under 3 1/2 years of austerity measures, nearly two in three said they’ve essentially given up on any hope life will get better and are growing more pessimistic about the economy, according to a nationwide poll by GPO for Mega TV and radio’s  Overthrow.

Some 63 percent expect their lot will become worse over the next two to three years, compared with 15.6 % saying that it will improve and 19.9 % who believe that it will remain the same. Greece is relying on international aid to keep the economy from collapsing but it has come at the cost of relentless pay hikes, tax hikes and slashed pensions.

The numbers of pessimists jumped nearly four percent from a previous GPO survey while the optimists fell even more as a sense of malaise has set in, replacing protests, strikes and riots that have failed to deter the government from easing up on harsh conditions.

The record unemployment rate shows no signs of abating and some 20 percent of Greeks are now trying to survive with poverty level incomes.

Greeks turned thumbs down on Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras’ assertion that they aren’t paying enough taxes compared to others in the European Union despite a drop in disposable income of more than 46 percent since a crushing economic crisis began.

Some 96.7 percent said Stournaras was completely wrong in his assertion, which drew a sharp rebuke from critics. Only 3.1 percent of Greeks thought they should pay more taxes.

More bad news for the coalition government of Samaras, the New Democracy Conservative leader, is that 79.7 percent are opposed to a pending unified property tax that combines a series of assessments into one larger fee. Only 12.8 percent felt it was fair.

With the government relying on going after people who have taxes withdrawn from their checks while doing little to go after the self-employed, professionals and tax cheats who owe the state more than $70 billion, 85.4 percent of Greeks said they want a fair system where everyone pays and 71.4 percent believe Samaras will fail to right the economy compared to only 27.1 percent in favor.

Only 35.6 percent believed the government was doing enough about the crisis and 62.8 percent said it wasn’t. Samaras, hoping to keep down social unrest has urged patience and said that the economy will begin to recover next year and that it will show a primary surplus this year for the first time in a decade.

That could trigger possibility of debt relief from the $325 billion owed to the Troika of the European Union-International Monetary Fund-European Central Bank, the EU-IMF-ECB Troika that essentially sets Greek fiscal policies.

But if Samaras has to worry, the survey was devastating for the major opposition anti-bailout Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) party as 70.1 percent of people had a negative opinion about its tactics of trying to bring down the government with early elections.

Asked about whether they still trust the party they voted for, only little more than half, 51.6 percent said yes and 48.4 percent said no. Despite that, Greeks keep electing New Democracy and its coalition partner, the PASOK Socialists.

The poll was conducted from Nov. 28-30 among a sample of 1,000 people while the government was stalled in negotiations with the Troika over a pending loan and delayed reforms.