By Sophie Makris — A FEW years ago, in what seems now like another world, Dina was getting job interviews, Gerassimos was preparing for retirement and Maria had no idea she would be defending workers’ rights.
But on May 2, 2010, Greece’s good times came to an abrupt end as the government turned to the International Monetary Fund and the European Union for 110 billion euros ($145 billion) to save it from bankruptcy. The price ordinary Greeks have had to pay for this and a second bailout has been high, with the effects felt across the population.
Tomorrow, the two parties that have dominated Greek politics since the end of the military junta in 1974 are expected to get their comeuppance when voters go the polls.
One such voter is 28-year-old Dina Karamani, who has just moved into her own place after years of sharing digs with students while at university, or back with mum and dad in the Piraeus port area of Athens.
She spent a long time looking for the first roof over her head before finding a two-room flat within her budget of 250 euros ($329) per month. If things get really tight, she says, she could always get a lodger. “I live in fear of losing it,” Dina said. She has managed to put a bit of money aside since she started doing translation work at home, which earns her around 500 euros ($650) per month, enabling her to live while she completes her thesis on medieval history.
But she’d like to do something different.
“I have been looking for months but haven’t found a job. I haven’t even had any interviews. Back in 2006, I worked for an hour and I got a lot of replies to my applications,” she says. She spends time presenting on an amateur radio station that “gives a different perspective on Greek current affairs”, one of her few ways to forget her worries.
Maria Chira, meanwhile, considers herself lucky to be unaffected. She still has her job of 14 years at oil firm Hellenic Petroleum and her monthly salary of 1,200 euros ($1,577) plus bonuses. But she needn’t look far to see that not everyone is as fortunate as herself: her husband’s firm has seen revenues slump 30-40 per cent, while her mother has lost out in 7,000 euros ($9,200) in pension payments.