ATHENS (Reuters) - As party leaders spend their time arguing over who will lead Greece to early elections, disgusted Greeks feel mocked by an infantile political class that has long since lost touch with their everyday struggles.
After three days of squabbling between Socialists and Conservatives over every detail of a coalition government, the mood in Athens on Wednesday ranged from anger and disillusionment to plain indifference.
“I feel disgust. They are mocking us and we are sick of them,” said Mary Melenikou, 32, an office clerk. “They are not telling the truth and they don’t care about us. They can’t agree because they are afraid to take responsibility for each other’s actions.”
Greeks have watched aghast as party leaders bickered over who might get which job, only weeks before the country will go bankrupt if it does not get a new government to negotiate a financial lifeline from the EU and IMF.
Some coped with the stress by professing not to care any longer who replaces Prime Minister George Papandreou, whose outgoing socialist government lapsed into chaos.
“I’ve reached my limits. I don’t care who will be ‘the next guy’ anymore” said Costas Polatoglu, a 34-year-old graphic designer, echoing the sentiment of many Greeks who feel politicians don’t represent them.
“I don’t trust them. I only hope that if we reach rock bottom we may start rising again.”
The coalition was agreed late on Sunday to win parliamentary approval for a euro zone bailout that Greece needs to avert bankruptcy when big debt repayments come due in December.
However, nothing else has been agreed beyond a preferred date for early elections, February 19.
Greece’s European lenders, worried that the survival of the euro itself is at stake, want written assurances that party leaders will keep their word on implementing the terms of the bailout, agreed by at a euro zone summit last month.
“These people are behaving like children. Enough is enough!” said Leni Papadopoulou, 57, a public sector pensioner. “They need to agree on something for the sake of our country, so that we can start living again.”
Christina Dimitrakopoulou, a law student, believed that everything Greek politicians have done so far has been wrong, and deciding on a premier’s name wouldn’t change anything.
“I don’t trust anyone anymore. I am surprised that some politicians call for elections. Do they want to govern ruins or have they got their own interests?” she said.
Dimitrakopoulou, 18, said she could work in her family’s insurance business, but many of her friends are unemployed and faced with hardship.
Greeks have been suffered with wage and pension cuts, a recession into its fourth year and rising inflation.
Many feel the bitter pill they are being asked to swallow will cure nothing. “With or without a government, for us it’s the same,” said Vangelis Panagiotakos, 18, a student.
“The only thing I’m worried about is if it gets worse, we may see uprisings, people fighting against each other. Horrible things.”
Writing by Karolina Tagaris; editing by David Stamp