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Last Updated: Friday, 14 September 2007, 10:28 GMT 11:28 UK
Greek election: Readers' voices
The Greek election campaign was dominated by the government's handling of the forest fires last month. Here Greek readers gave their predictions ahead of Sunday's poll and discussed what was at stake.

PHILIPP GORGIAS, ATHENS

Philipp Gorgias
My choice for the upcoming elections would have to be the governing New Democracy (ND) party.

The government's handling of the recent fires has not influenced my vote, mostly because I feel that there was nothing more it could do. Any mistakes made were not in the reaction but in the lack of precautionary measures taken.

However, the fires were impossible to foresee and therefore impossible to prevent. If we want to blame someone, it would have to be the wider state structure and lack of organisation at local level.

As we've entered the final week before the elections, surprisingly it feels like the fires have already been overshadowed by other issues like the economy, taxes and agriculture.

[Greek Prime Minister Costas] Karamanlis's ND party seems to be the favourite, since his rivals don't have any interesting agenda to present.

This election is of great importance, even though it seems to be taken seriously only by the politicians.

Many Greeks feel they have not felt any huge improvement over the past three years since the last change of government.

However this seems to be a critical turning point for the country on many levels. Economically, things seem to be on the up, and the increase in foreign investments brings some light at the end of the tunnel.

Greece needs a prime minister who can rise to the challenge and a political party willing to follow a European agenda and not hesitate to introduce radical changes. Yes, the ND are not the best, but at the moment there doesn't seem to be anyone else out there fit for the job.

CHRISTINA TSIOKOU, ATHENS

Christina Tsiokou
My vote will not be influenced directly by the fires since the government had not done anything to protect the forests or the environment before the fires started.

I will vote for one of the smaller opposition parties.

These elections could be important for Greece if the people realise the big mistakes of the two big parties and reduce the number of votes they get.

I hope that this will give a good lesson to the two big parties [the ruling New Democracy party and the Socialist Party Pasok] and make them realise that Greek voters can see through their errors.

Corruption is the biggest problem in the Greek government and in the two main parties.

There is also a lack of accountability in how people are appointed to prominent positions.

The big parties put people who don't have the right qualifications but know the right people in the important, and also less important, positions.

As a result a Greek voter will vote for the party that gave a good position to their relative and not the party that he or she thinks is more capable.

My prediction is that the government will be returned to power, but will have less power in parliament.

ANASTASIOS LIMPEROPOULOS, ATHENS

I am not yet sure who I will vote for, but it may not be for either New Democracy or Pasok.

A woman passes campaign posters in Athens
PM Karamanlis called the poll six months before the end of his term
The government's handling of the fires influenced my vote, but even if Pasok were in government, it wouldn't have handled the crisis any better.

The proof lies in the fact that neither party made use of the 30-40 million euros (20-30m) that the EU gave us for the protection of our forests.

It looks like many people will choose not to vote in this election and a significant percentage of those who go to the polls will vote for Pasok.

Personally, I hope to see five or six parties in our parliament after the election.

My prediction is a close contest, with Pasok leading after the first round, but ND regaining the lead for a tight victory of 1-2%.

MARIA ALAFOUZOS, EKALI

Maria Alafouzos
The New Democracy party is by far the most serious of all the parties, with an honest outlook on policies and governing.

The recent fires did not affect my view of the current government, and I believe that they have not made much impact on others either.

The fires were saddening because of the environmental loss, but the blame lies in my opinion with the local authorities' failure to take the initiative.

I predict that the ND will win this election because the general public seems to know that they are the most serious choice.

The elections on Sunday are a hugely important event for Greece.

They can lead us into the future of truly becoming a Western European country.

The only alternative is to go backwards towards the corruption that many have been determined to eliminate.

VANGELIS MATRAGKOS, ATHENS

Vangelis Matragkos
These elections are very important.

I will definitely not vote for this government, not only because they are incapable of governing, but because they actually encourage the environmental pollution, the high rates of unemployment, the economic problems, corruption, and a lack of meritocracy.

The government decided to hold the elections prior to completing the four-year governing period because they were under continuing pressure.

So many scandals have been disclosed that they tried to save what was left of their government before any new ones emerged.

In my opinion, most of the people who changed their minds about voting for the government did so due to the scandals of the past three-and-a-half years.

The response to the fires also encouraged this.

I will vote for the left-wing Syriza coalition. I am hoping they will get about 4-5% of the vote.

Despite their unpopularity, however, the government will probably be returned to power, because the Greek people take voting about as seriously as they do choosing which football team to support.

My only hope is that they are unable to form a majority and will have to call a second election soon after.




SEE ALSO
Greek PM confirms snap election
17 Aug 07 |  Europe
Greece heads for snap elections
16 Aug 07 |  Europe
Timeline: Greece
25 Aug 07 |  Country profiles
Country profile: Greece
21 Aug 07 |  Country profiles



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