The state of Greek public opinion: contempt towards elites and pessimism for the future

In the week that Greece presented its latest austerity budget to international creditors, GlobeScan’s latest analysis of Greek public opinion bears out the assessment of Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, who recently compared Greece’s situation to that of Depression-era America.
Just 20 percent of Greeks in our latest survey express any faith that the lives of their children and grandchildren will be better than their own. Furthermore, 77 percent feel that economic well-being has worsened over the last 20 years, while 71 percent feel the move to healthier and more equitable societies over the same period had gone backwards. Looking ahead, just 23 percent believe that economic well-being will improve over the next 20 years.
The despair that Greeks feel about the future is matched by their contempt for elites. Just 9 percent of Greeks believe that the rich deserve their wealth, and only 27 percent trust Greekcompanies to act in the best interests of society. Trust in multinational companies is lower still, at 21 percent, while fewer than one in five (18%) has any trust in the Greek government to act in the best interests of society.
These levels of social pessimism, resentment towards wealth and business, and anger toward the political class raise questions about how long the status quo and political centre in Greece can be maintained, especially in light of the rise of the Golden Dawn and SYRIZA groupings. With many of the options seen as most likely to contain the Eurozone crisis off the political table for now, New Democracy and Antonis Samaras will be lucky to avoid the fate of PASOK, whose share of the vote collapsed after they pushed this year’s bailout.
Finding from the GlobeScan Radar, Wave 1, 2012
This post was written by former GlobeScan Research Director, Sam Mountford.