Thursday, June 14, 2012

Greece's Rural Voters 'on a Tightrope'

Wall Street Journal
June 13, 2012

The talk among farmers in this small Greek village these days is about the pain inflicted by the strict terms of the European Union's bailout of their country, as well as the potential perils of rejecting the deal and, perhaps, facing a future outside the euro zone.

How voters in Greece's countryside weigh these factors will play a large part in determining the outcome of what is expected to be a close race in critical national elections Sunday between the conservative New Democracy party and its antiausterity, left-wing rivals, Syriza.

"I feel like we're on a tightrope," said Chrysostomos Stratouras, a 48-year-old who grows potatoes, wheat and olives on land tilled by his family for generations. Ordinary Greeks are under enormous economic pressure, he said, and "an empty stomach is a bad adviser."

But Mr. Stratouras said that for him, the choice is clear. He plans to vote for New Democracy, which supports the EU's rescue package and the tough restructuring program that goes with it, even though he thinks it is "murderous." The alternative, he said, is simply too dangerous.


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