In contrast with the country’s politicians, the majority of Greek public opinion appears to have sufficiently understood the magnitude, and to a great extent the nature of the escalating social eruption. More specifically:
First, 6 in 10 adults agree not only with the view that the rioting constitutes a genuine ‘social revolt’ (60% against 36%) but also with the opinion that it is a ‘mass social phenomenon’ as opposed to the manifestations of ‘a small minority’ (60% against 36%).
Second, public opinion is convinced that the destruction is being caused by a small proportion of protesters: ‘few’ (42%), ‘very few’ (26%), while just 10% of respondents believe that ‘most’ or ‘all’ of the protesters are participating in the acts of violence.
Third, the electorate considers the recent protests to be ‘spontaneous’. One in 2 citizens (47%) reject outright the view that the recent events are ‘instigated by political parties’. At the same time, despite the political attacks against SYNASPISMOS/SYRIZA from all quarters, only 14% of public opinion (i.e. 1 in 7 respondents) attribute responsibility for the protests to the left-wing party.
Government and political leaders
The crisis appears to be having an adverse impact on the government’s image. Its handling so far is criticized by 69% of respondents (7 in 10). At the same time, no political leader has gained the recognition of public opinion in the current conditions: The view that ‘no political leader adopted a proper stance on the events’ is shared by 42% of citizens. The percentages of approval, not only for the stance of the prime minister (20%) but also of the main opposition leader (17%), are especially low. These percentages do not even represent half of the electoral support for their respective parties and attest major political weakness, moreover in conditions of unprecedented social upheaval.
Attitudes toward the police
The reply to charges of the accused policeman and his stance in general has created extremely negative impressions among public opinion (70%). Furthermore, the survey reveals widespread social dissatisfaction with the police stance (76%). Lastly, almost 6 in 10 respondents (58%) approve of the defensive stance adopted by the police in the rioting, while 1 in 2 (48%) are opposed to tougher police action against protesters.
Date of publication: 14/12/2008
Publication: Newspaper “KATHIMERINI”