For more than four years, Greeks have lived under austerity policies imposed by international lenders and the European Union. Many hope a new government will offer a reprieve from higher taxes, fewer jobs, lower wages, and more expensive goods and services. “At this point, the government is destroying the country,” says Myrto Rigopoulou, a psychologist and translator in Athens. Fearful about Greece’s stability, people aren’t planning for the future, says Maria Karaklioumi, a pollster and political analyst in Athens. “They don’t think about what will happen in two or three years. They’re in a continuous race for daily survival.”
The austerity measures, including public-sector job cuts, reduced spending on education and health care, and privatizations that have led to unemployment, were required under the terms of a loan agreement with the European Commission, the European Central Bank, and the International Monetary Fund. Since 2010, Greece has received about €240 billion ($283 billion) in loans. The measures were introduced under the socialist government led by George Papandreou, who left office in November 2011, and continued under the governing coalition led by Samaras's center-right New Democracy party.
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