Greek Australians Ambivalent About Elections in Greece

australia708_0Greek Australians are ambivalent about the upcoming snap elections in Greece, according to an article in Australia’s The Age.

On the one hand they worry about the economy in their homeland if left-wing SYRIZA wins the January 25th elections and implements its anti-capitalist agenda that may lead Greece out of the eurozone.

On the other hand, they feel for their relatives and friends in Greece who have suffered through five years of harsh austerity policies imposed by the current coalition government after the international creditors’ suggestions.

Bill Papastergiadis, a lawyer and president of the Greek Community of Melbourne, said many Greek Australians have financially helped their families in Greece. At the same time, he said that, “what people are really looking for is stability and a plan ahead. The issue of constant change is creating a lot of uncertainty for [people in Greece] and Greeks abroad.”

“We’d like stability, a government with a strong mandate, an economic upswing for the country and a better social and political environment for our friends and relatives in Greece,” Papastergiadis said to The Age. “(SYRIZA leader Alexis) Tsipras is proposing increasing salary levels and pensions. For those Greek Australians who are entitled to a pension from Greece, that will mean some respite.”

At the same time, SYRIZA’s determination to renegotiate the bailout program has generated concern. Those who own property in Greece may see it devalued, he said.

Sydney lawyer Nick Pappas said Greek Australians see Greece’s reputation suffering from the continuation of the economic and political crisis. He said that “modern Greeks, both from the diaspora and Greece itself, are, on the whole, enterprising and full of initiative.”

Pappas said that, so far, SYRIZA used populist slogans about refusing to pay a big part of Greece’s debt and severing ties with the eurozone if necessary. However, Tsipras’ rhetoric is getting more moderate as elections approach, he added.

Nia Karteris, vice-president of the Greek Orthodox Community of NSW and director of the Greek festival, said that if Tsipras does a complete turn and Greece returns to the drachma, it will be damaging for the country.

“I want to invest in Greece, but the tax measures make it too difficult for me to purchase something. The rental market is so dead, property would just sit there,” Karteris said to The Age.