Europe always constituted a stable reference point for Greeks: a field of peace, democracy, and economic development that counterbalanced the country’s domestic problems, as well as the instability of its neighborhood. Although this symbolic context is still evident from the July 2013 survey (remaining in the Euro dominates returning to the Drachma, the national currency), Greek people cast direct doubt on the ability of Europe itself to recover from the crisis and thereby improve its 500m citizens’ living conditions in the coming years.
This image of a weakened Europe reinforces the ethnocentric reflexes of Greek society, but at the same time leads to the emergence of a new “morality” in domestic public affairs, which favors political action over political discourse. In this framework, respondents of the July 2013 survey seem to have more confidence in, and thus support the actions of, parties and individuals that played an active role in the events of the recent period:
1. The confrontation with the issue of ERT, the public broadcaster, the invitation from the US President, the reduction of VAT in the foodservice industry, and the passage of the latest multi-legislation in parliament are events and actions that strengthen Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, the government, and New Democracy.
2. The “mobility scheme” for civil servants and the corresponding layoffs in the public sector are interpreted as the end-point of a three-year cycle of ineffective discussions, and work in favor of the new Minister of Administrative Reform, Kyriakos Mitsotakis. Specifically, layoffs in the public sector and the removal of guaranteed for-life employment for civil servants receive over 60% approval, which is expressed almost across the whole political spectrum.
3. Alexis Tsipras gains in leadership capital – after the recent conference of SYRIZA and the decisions taken – and seems to be credited with the success of converting a multi-component movement into a unified entity and a major political party.
4. Furthermore, it seems that PASOK and its president Evangelos Venizelos gained some “recognition” for their contribution to government stability government, by avoiding an uncertain – for the country – election, which could have been caused by ERT’s shut-down.
5. Compared with previous polls, Fotis Kouvelis and the Democratic Left face a significant decline, since their voluntary departure from the three-party government was interpreted as retreat and as a refusal to take action and responsibility that could have further secured the country.
The July 2013 survey provides evidence of a new degree of awareness – from the Greek society’s perspective – that improvement of the domestic situation depends on neither the external factor (the EU) nor the easy political controversies and populist discourse per se. With the European crisis getting deeper and deeper and with “words” becoming heavier and heavier in people’s lives, Jean-Paul Sartre’s motto that ‘everyone is judged by their actions’ seems to express a shift of Greek society into a standby mode for concrete political action.