Greek elections: Brussels no longer worries about the economy but rule of law is another matter

The European Union is eagerly awaiting the parliamentary elections in Greece.
The European Union is eagerly awaiting the parliamentary elections in Greece. Copyright Petr David Josek/The AP
By Stefan GrobeEfi Koutsokosta
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While Athens has regained the EU's confidence in terms of the economy, this is not the case with the quality of the rule of law.

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Parliamentary elections will be held in Greece on Sunday, at a time when high food prices and the cost of living are at the top of the minds of Greek voters, according to recent polls.

For Brussels, the economic situation seems a far cry from the dark days of bailout programmes and painful austerity measures.

Now the country's economy is among the fastest growing in the eurozone. But whoever wins the elections, fiscal discipline will remain a key element.

"Essentially, Greece has weathered the last two exceptional crises, the credit crisis and the energy crisis, quite well, perhaps better than the European average," Daniel Gros, director of the Institute for European Policymaking at Bocconi University in Milan, told Euronews. "And the government has managed to keep fiscal policy under control and is now reaping the fruits of that discipline."

While Greece has regained the EU's confidence in terms of the economy, this is not the case with the quality of the rule of law.

The government's image was tarnished abroad by the so-called "Greek Watergate," in which politicians, journalists, and businessmen were monitored by Greek intelligence services.

The government denies having used spy software.

But Nino Tsereteli, research officer at Democracy Reporting International in Berlin, is not happy.

"The political authorities have essentially obstructed the activities of the independent agency, which is supposed to verify, for example, who is on the watch list. And it takes several years for people to be informed after the monitoring has been done," she told Euronews.

"This leads to a really disturbing situation, because the opposition and journalists are the ones who are targeted. And this seriously affects the quality of democracy in the country and the quality of the rule of law.

However, according to polls, the scandal is unlikely to have a major impact on the parliamentary elections.

According to Tsereteli, this is a symptom of critical voices being suppressed by the media, and great vigilance is needed at the EU level before the situation comes to an irreversible head.

For the second year in a row, Greece ranks as the worst EU country in terms of media freedom, according to Reporters Without Borders.

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