Members of Greece’s new parliament have taken their oath of office at a religious ceremony.
Among those being sworn in were 18 MPs from the ultra-right Golden Dawn party.
A notable absentee was conservative Prime Minister Antonis Samaras. He is still recovering from eye surgery and is unable to attend the EU summit in Brussels either.
Ministers in his three party coalition have taken a 30-percent pay cut. That is a response to public anger over government waste and privilege as citizens bear the brunt of austerity demanded in return for Greece’s bailout.
Foteini Kanderaki, the manageress of a coffee shop in Athens, is still optimistic about the future. “Nothing will come without hope so, yes, I think things will improve,” she said.
“We hope but we don’t trust any of the foreign leaders and how they view our country,” added customer Julia Anastasopoulou.
Fellow customer Ilias Ginis said that while he might trust President Karolos Papoulias, who is representing Greece at the summit, he thinks problems will remain as long as German Chancellor Angela Merkel is involved.
After five years of recession, many Greeks say cuts in jobs, wages and pensions have spared a corrupt, tax-evading elite and heaped an unfair burden on the poorest sections of society.