A family divided: Emotions run high ahead of Greek vote

Published July 5, 2015 6:15AM (EDT)

ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Dimitris is voting "yes" because he fears Greece would be in danger if it leaves the European Union. His daughter Alexandra is voting "no" because she is tired of richer European nations bossing Greece around.

His son, Nikolas, is on his side — and he thinks polarized Greece may be on the verge of a civil war — while his wife Dimitra distrusts both the Yes and the No campaigns and doesn't plan to vote in Sunday's momentous Greek referendum.

Meet the Danikoglous, an intense, articulate Greek family divided over whether or not the country should accept conditions by creditors attached to loans it needs to avoid default and a banking collapse.

The ballot question does not address whether Greece should abandon the euro currency or leave the 28-member European Union, but many voters believe those issues are at stake.

In their apartment in the working-class Athens neighborhood of Tavros, the family members squabble over espresso frappes and fruit juice. But they don't fight. They are united in their belief that only as a strong family can they weather the coming storm. And they share a sense that Greece, so rich with history and culture, has fallen tragically short of its potential.

Here are their views:


DIMITRIS DANIKOGLOU, 48, works in the family jewelry shop:

"I am forced to vote for 'yes' because I want to stay in the eurozone and the EU. I can't imagine Greece out of Europe and I don't believe that if we say 'no' we can stay. I can't take that risk. We are under the protective umbrella of the EU, a big protective social system, and we need protection. And we have to stay for political and economic reasons."

"I have a shop of my own; my profits are down 50 percent in the last five years of austerity. The return to the drachma (Greece's former national currency) would be a catastrophe for me, and for the whole country. The politicians are not telling the truth about a return to the drachma. Many believe we will open the currency factory and make drachmas for everyone and pay off the debt with drachmas. But there would be a sudden bankruptcy."

"Europe has made big problems for us. The debt is not right, it's not payable. I agree it should be cut 30 percent. I'm struggling for the survival of my family. It's very hard. We live in difficult times."


ALEXANDRA DANIKOGLOU, 20, is studying philosophy at university:

"I'm afraid for my future. I see people fired every day. I worry because I see people starving outside on the road. It's scary. All my classmates from high school have left for England or America. Nobody stays in Greece. But we are Greek, we should stay. But how can I say I will find a job?"

"I will vote 'no' on Sunday. It's terror to go out of the eurozone. But I want to do something different, I want to resist. This is my resistance. I don't want all these big countries controlling us."

"People say Greece is special, because it is the mother of philosophy, of mathematics, of politics, of democracy, and so what? What are we doing? We keep talking about our history but we are doing nothing. Right now we are not good enough to be called Greek. We need to progress. I know it will be very difficult if we leave the eurozone and go back to the drachma but I see hope in the situation. If we stay in the eurozone I don't see hope. They will control us for 20 years."


NIKOLAS DANIKOGLOU, 23, training for a career in law:

"I feel the tension at work, tension in the streets, tension in the cafes. The people are arguing the whole time. I'm afraid of the current situation. I'm fearful. I really am."

"I have no idea about the future. I am voting 'yes' because I want a discussion with Europe. The next day if possible. If 'no' comes, I'm afraid there will be no discussion, or the terms will be worse than what was offered before."

"This situation will create a war within the people. Greek versus Greek. The people are divided right now, about 50-50. What happens the day after the referendum? I'm afraid."


DIMITRA DANIKOGLOU, 48, works in the family jewelry shop:

"I want to stay in the European Union, but I won't vote 'yes' because I don't trust the political parties that are in favor of that, because they are the ones who caused the crisis. I don't trust the parties saying 'no'. I feel the same way about them."

"I'm afraid of 'yes'; I'm afraid of 'no.' I am not going to vote tomorrow because I think either 'yes' or 'no' is like someone tell me how I'm going to die."

"I'm furious about the propaganda in the media. I'm from a different generation. I worked since I was a little girl and I did not have the chance to study. I try to understand what's going on with the economy by listening to the TV and radio. This problem came from the former government. I'm ashamed I voted for them over the years."

By Gregory Katz

MORE FROM Gregory Katz

Related Topics ------------------------------------------

From The Wires