Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Disclaimer: The Parliamentary Library does not warrant or accept liability for the accuracy or usefulness of the transcripts. These are copied directly from the broadcaster's website.
Greek Government goes in snap poll -

View in ParlViewView other Segments

SHANE MCLEOD: It was a gamble that appears to have completely backfired. After calling a snap
general election only half way through his term, the Greek Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis has
suffered a stinging defeat at the hands of the Opposition Socialist Movement.

The result means George Papandreou will follow in the footsteps of both his father and grandfather
to become Greece's Prime Minister.

This report by Barbara Miller.

BARBARA MILLER: On election day, the Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis, said "Greek men and women
decide. They make an important political choice". And choose they did. But not the incumbent.

In a resounding victory, the opposition Socialist Movement PASOK has around 44 per cent of the
vote, compared to 34 per cent for Mr Karamanlis' New Democracy Party.

(Sounds of celebrations)

(PASOK supporter speaking.)

BARBARA MILLER: "We are happy because we got rid of Karamanlis, and that's it," says this PASOK

Costas Karamanlis called the snap election just halfway into his term. His stinging defeat might
serve as a warning to any leader thinking of doing the same. His party is out of government and his
days at the helm are over.

COSTAS KARAMANLIS (translated): The only responsible and honourable road for me is one. I accept
responsibility for the result and I will start procedures for the election of a new party president
of New Democracy.

BARBARA MILLER: Associate Professor Vrasidas Karalis is chair of the Modern Greek Studies
Department at Sydney University

VRASIDAS KARALIS: He'd never, never had in mind the worst case scenario because he believed that if
he called the elections now instead of next year or the year after, he would lose the elections by
all means but the Opposition would form government in a coalition with another party.

So unfortunately it seems that the dissatisfaction amongst the electorate was so much that he not
simply lost the elections, not simply you know the Opposition back forms a government of its own
but it seems that himself must be out of politics.

BARBARA MILLER: Does the scale of the defeat come as a surprise to you as well?

VRASIDAS KARALIS: Well, to a certain degree yes. We never expected to be such a swing of 10 per
cent throughout the country. That shows to my perception the frustration and the anger and the fury
of the people.

They had so many hopes for Karamanlis as a prime minister because it was a generational change when
he took over in 2003 and we thought for the first time there would be a young individual full of
ideas, full of modern perspectives in the administration of politics and he will change the
political culture of the country but it seems six years later, the Greek people felt totally let
down and completely, completely I would say, disappointed.

BARBARA MILLER: A number of factors have contributed to the Greek Government's demise - its
handling of the financial crisis, a series of corruption scandals, as well as its failure to
contain riots that erupted after the police shooting last year of a teenager.

Expectations of the next Prime Minister George Papandreou are high. Mr Papandreou told supporters
he's ready for the challenge:

GEORGE PAPANDREOU (translated): We are here united in front of the great responsibility that we
take on, that I take on. A responsibility for a change of course in the country, for a just united
country full of humanity, development and progress. We know we will succeed, we know we can and I
am saying to you, let's go. Let's go.

BARBARA MILLER: But Vrasidas Karalis from Sydney University has his doubts.

VRASIDAS KARALIS: It will be interesting to see what he can do. I don't think that he can do much
as I understand because it needs radical change and radical change in the approach of the
administration of politics in Greece, especially the way that the state apparatuses functions so
let's hope that Papandreou will be bold enough and radical enough to make a real generational
change in Greece.

BARBARA MILLER: And George Papandreou hardly represents a new beginning. He'll be the third
Papandreou to govern Greece since World War II. This is his third attempt to become Prime Minister.
And, as one commentator put it, this victory may be less on merit than by default.

SHANE MCLEOD: Barbara Miller.