ATHENS (AFP) – Greece had been expected to finally limp out of recession after six painful years in the red, before it was unexpectedly plunged into a snap general election set for January 25.
Now, with a clear electoral result far from certain, the long-suffering Greek business community fears that any chance of a tentative recovery will be delayed – if not killed off outright – by a damaging political stalemate.
“Banks have begun to stir in helping enterprise, but the elections have put everything on hold,” said Haris Makriniotis, head of a think-tank named Endeavor that helps business startups.
“For the business community, the key requirement is to quickly have a government in place, no matter who it is, and especially to avoid a follow-up ballot,” he told AFP.
In 2012, back-to-back elections were needed to form the current government, leading to weeks of political uncertainty.
There are fears of a repeat performance this time given the close race between Prime Minister Antonis Samaras’ conservative New Democracy party and Syriza, the resurgent anti-austerity movement that wants to renegotiate Greece’s EU-IMF bailout.
Opinion polls indicate Syriza leads New Democracy by around three points – but the intentions of one in 10 voters are still unclear.
“This is not Belgium” where the country functioned for five months before a government was formed, said Vassilis Korkidis, head of the confederation of Greek commerce.
“We will not be able to hold out for months without a government,” he said.