"Αν μπορείτε πιστέψτε το, εγώ πρόκειται να ψηφίσω Σαμαρά," παραδέχτηκε πρώην υπουργός στην πρόσφατη κυβέρνηση του ΠΑΣΟΚ του Γιώργου Παπανδρέου.
Η Ανδρομάχη Κωνσταντινίδου, 60 ετών ψηφιζει Πασοκ από τα 40 της,επίσης εργάστηκε στο τμήμα δημοσίων σχέσεων του σοσιαλιστή μακαρίτη πρωθυπουργού, Ανδρέα Παπανδρέου.
Τώρα λέει ότι «ακόμα κι αν θεωρώ ότι η Νέα Δημοκρατία είναι υπεύθυνη για τόσο μεγάλο μέρος της διαφθοράς και της ευνοιοκρατίας, που μας οδήγησαν σε αυτό το χάλι, αν και νομίζω ότι ο Αντώνης Σαμαράς είναι ο χειρότερος ηγέτης όλων των εποχών, ακόμη και αν η καρδιά μου είναι ακόμα με το ΠΑΣΟΚ θα ψηφίσω ΝΔ»
Greece: austerity party gains from fear of the unknown
Angst over a euro exit and extremism may swing voters back to centre-right in vital poll
The Observer, Sunday 10 June 2012All her life Andromahi Constantinidou, 60, has been a committed leftist. In her youth when Greece was ruled by military officers who banned miniskirts and beards, she was a signed-up member of an anti-dictatorship youth movement. In her student years in Paris she was a committed Euro-communist. And in her 40s, after a short-lived left-right government that left her appalled, the civil servant began supporting the socialist Pasok party. There she has remained ever since.
But a week before Greeks hold fresh elections after an indecisive poll on 6 May, Constantinidou, who worked in the public relations department of the late socialist prime minister, Andreas Papandreou, has decided to put country before personal conviction.
"I will make a pact with the devil to save Greece. I will vote for New Democracy," she said, referring to the conservative party that emerged as the frontrunner in last month's poll but without enough votes to form a government.
"Even though I consider New Democracy to be responsible for so much of the corruption and cronyism that got us into this mess, even though I think Antonis Samaras is its worst leader ever, and even though my heart is still with Pasok I will vote for the conservatives," confided the pensioner.
"My mother, who is 90 this year and has voted for the left all her life says she will do the same because it is vital, this time, the first party gets enough votes to form a government."
The Constantinidou family are far from alone. In a week that saw far-right extremists hogging the headlines – after Ilias Kasidiaris, the spokesman of the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party, assaulted two female politicians during a live TV talkshow – there is a growing recognition that desperate times call for desperate acts. Kasidiaris is now threatening to sue his victims, accusing them of provoking the attack.
With Greece's future in the eurozone, and very possibly the EU, at stake, Greeks are throwing personal ideology to the winds and clambering on board the "pro-European" conservative train seeing it as the only guarantee of further EU-IMF rescue funds to keep the debt-choked economy afloat.
The alternative, the radical Syriza party that emerged as the surprise runner-up in last month's poll and is now neck-and-neck with New Democracy, has campaigned on a platform of "tearing up" the unpopular loan agreement keeping bankruptcy at bay.
"If you can believe it I am going to vote for Samaras," admitted a former minister in the recent Pasok government lead by George Papandreou. "Syriza will take us back to the drachma. It will mean catastrophe and unfortunately, after two-and-a-half years of handling this crisis, Pasok is exhausted, it is history, it belongs to the past," he said, referring to the party's crushing defeat in last month's poll. "It's like a bad dream. Not for a moment did I think it would come to this."
Greece's shifting political landscape – a dramatic thing among a people where political allegiances are seen as passionate lifelong friendships – mirrors the growing sense of fear that is also enveloping the country.
On Friday, the US president, Barack Obama, encapsulated those fears. Weighing into the campaign, he urged Greeks to stay the course, saying their hardships "will likely be worse" outside the eurozone – even if that meant enduring punishing austerity measures that have seen wage packets empty and living standards plummet.
The German chancellor, Angela Merkel, similarly reminded Greeks that the "memorandum", or loan agreement, their country had signed up to was "the foundation for a favourable development". "We have to say that clearly to all those who are seeking election in Greece," she said.
On Saturday, New Democracy criticised Syriza for pedalling policies that it said were "irresponsible, dangerous and third world". But with anti-austerity opposition at a record high and with ordinary Greeks stretched to breaking point, that is not the view of the majority of "anti-bailout" political party leaders, or a large segment of the population who punished mainstream parties at the ballot box in May for endorsing the measures.
In the countdown to the election, tensions are clearly mounting. Violence, too, is on the rise as frustration and fatigue with a crisis that began in late 2009 also grow. Eight years after Athens staged a world-class Olympic games the capital, like the country at large, has been overtaken by a sense of desperation and despair; its people beaten down by five grinding years of recession and plunged into seeming ungovernability by the political instability spawned by last month's inconclusive poll. Paralysis has brought dysfunction and with it a deepening sense of social breakdown.
The vast majority are in favour of the euro, viewing Greece's European membership as the single biggest factor in living standards being improved. But, after decades of economic mismanagement, the country faces a choice between bad and worse – excoriating austerity or eurozone exit – with little light at the end of the tunnel for years to come.
Constantinidou fears Greece's days in the eurozone are numbered – irrespective of next week's electoral outcome. "I'm afraid that Greece is like Iphighenia and that as a country we will be sacrificed for the greater good," she sighed.