Niki Klaoudatou, who is just one parent, claims that she now is more anxious about money than she was during the weakest years of the nation’s economic collapse, 14 years after a severe debt crisis that nearly caused Greece to tumble out of the euro.
Voters’ top concerns prior to the election on May 21 centre on the rate-of-living crisis that is eroding income.
For Klaoudatou, this means choosing a candidate other than the opposition Marxist Syriza or the current conservative and New Democracy.
During a ten-year debt predicament that peaked in 2015, three multilateral bailouts prevented Greece from exiting the euro zone.
However, the austerity measures imposed in exchange for financial assistance negatively impacted the lives of millions of Greeks as taxes rose and wages or pensions were adjusted.
Regaining control of the country’s finances required a tough adjustment. Greece’s bailout package finished in 2018, and since then, it has reclaimed market access, reduced its record debt, and is expected to have growth that is higher than the euro zone’s norm.
But for many, that reversal only exists on paper.
Klaoudatou, now 40 and employed by a telephone firm, makes the same amount of money each month (850 euros) as she did in 2004 when she was a 20-year-old store worker.
She claims she can’t afford the necessities because of her mortgage, two small children, and rising food costs.
While millions of people in Europe are having trouble due to rising prices, particularly for energy or food, the impact on Greece has been magnified by the recent financial turbulence.
For employees and retirees, the last ten years have been unchanged. According to Vlassis Missos, a colleague at Greek Centre of Planning & Economic Research, they haven’t yet benefited from any growth improvements.
A GPO poll conducted on May 6 showed the major opposition of the incumbent conservative and New Democracy was expected to receive 30.4% of the votes on May 21 in contrast to 36.9% for the New Democracy. Smaller parties, notably the formerly strong Socialist PASOK, were also making strides.
The minimum wages alongside pensions have increased under Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, who has pledged to do more if re-elected.
His biggest competitor, the communist Alexis Tsipras, who presided over Greece from 2015 to 2019, has likewise committed to raising minimum pay and pensions as well as indexing wages to inflation.
Although Greece is officially no longer under the European Union’s fiscal watch, its high debt load nevertheless makes lenders nervous.
This means that any government will have to do a risky balancing act between appeasing a populace that has been demoralised by poverty and inflation while also maintaining market stability.
There isn’t much space for error.
Greek central banker and expert Yannis Stournaras stated to media site Imerisia.gr on May 10 that the public is still a long and great way from a primary and ideal budget surplus, which is required for the long-term state of debt sustainability.
Last year, one in two Greek homes struggled to make ends meet with their monthly salary.
Greece had the highest percentage of past-due invoices among the EU’s 27 members in 2021, according to Eurostat, the statistics body for the EU. At 32.4% of Greek houses as opposed to an EU norm of 10.4%, this proportion of people whose living costs exceed 40% of their usable income was also the highest in the EU.
Additionally, those expenses have increased over the past year as a result of the Euro Central Bank raising interest rates at an unprecedented rate in an effort to control spiralling inflation.
Klaoudatou’s mortgage has increased to 450 euros per month, which is 100 euros much more than it was a year ago. She lives in a small flat in the Alimos neighbourhood of Athens alongside her mother, two kids and sister.
Her mother, who earns a pension of about 850 euros each month, halves the costs with her. The family is still struggling to make ends meet.