Greeks’ greatest fears

The biggest problems of concern to most Greeks are unemployment, poverty and crime; the institutions they have most faith in are the army, the legal system and the police, according to a Eurobarometer survey. Greeks are generally less satisfied with their lives than are other Europeans, but they remain staunch supporters of European integration. The results of the «Special Eurobarometer on Greece,» released on Monday, show that nearly a quarter of the population expect their lives to get worse, the same percentage as the residents of the former East Germany and the Portuguese. Nearly half thought their family’s financial situation would remain unchanged, but 56 percent (the highest in the European Union) believed the country’s economic situation would worsen. A similar majority believes there will be fewer jobs available in Greece in 2004; only 15 percent did not agree. Unemployment is the biggest fear for 65 percent of those polled (1,000 people around the country questioned between October 1 and November 7, 2003) compared to 42 percent for the European Union as a whole. A further 32 percent are concerned about the country’s economic situation. Fewer Greeks are worried about terrorism (4 percent) than the average EU citizen (12 percent). The army remains the most respected institution for 83 percent of Greeks (EU average 64 percent), followed by the justice system (68 percent), police (67 percent) and the EU (65 percent). Half the sample had no faith in the government and only 20 percent had any faith in political parties. Just over half of those polled also thought the standard of television programs was unacceptable. However, they seemed to have retained their confidence in the European Union, particularly its role in defense, foreign policy, fighting terrorism and protecting the environment, although they blame the EU for unemployment and rising prices. Nevertheless, around three quarters say Greece has benefited from membership, the highest percentage after the Irish, with 82 percent. At the other end of the spectrum are the Swedes, the East Germans and the British, where there is only about a 30 percent approval rate. More than eight in 10 are proud of their nationality (as opposed to the European average of 41 percent). However, on the EU’s relations with the US, Greeks are the most negative of all member states: 85 percent believe the US plays a negative role for world peace (against an EU average of 53 percent) and 75 percent that it plays a negative role on terrorism (European average 37 percent). Seven in 10 criticize the US role in world economic growth, compared to an EU average of 36 percent.