Latest opinion poll results show that nearly half of Greek voters believe that neither of the country’s two major political parties is capable of governing. The ruling right - wing New Democracy was given an approval rating of just 16% whilst the opposition centre left PASOK party polled just 17%.
The results underline the massive lack of trust in the present political system which has been exacerbated by the recent economic downturn, a series of high profile corruption scandals and the wave of violent confontations which swept Greece In December and January.
This week doctors and other health care officials took industrial action for 48 hours in order to protest the chronic staff and equipment shortages that have plagued the public health care system for years.
A senior doctor at a hospital in Thessaloniki, Greece’s second city, speaking on condition of anonymity said that his department had just a third of the nurses required. In addition lack of staff means that Greek hospitals are regularly demanding doctors work more than the European Union mandated limit of 48 hours a week.
There have also been complaints over shortages of basic supplies such as bandages and medicine in many hospitals caused by cuts in funding by the Ministry of Health and massive delays in paying medical suppliers for previous orders.
The death of a 58 year old man this week in a ambulance taking him to hospital in Thessaloniki sparked off a political row when it came out that the man died as paramedics were unable to revive him following a heart attack as their resuscitator was missing parts. Although a coroner's report said that the death was unrelated to the heart attack, doctors who treated the man are adamant he could have been saved if the ambulance's equipment had been in working order.
The strike action is just one of a series of protests which has seen the government pitched against students, farmers, cleaners and even police officers.
Whilst the riots and street clashes that were sparked off by the killing of a teenager in December have faded from the world’s TV screens violent confrontations have continued albeit on a smaller scale.
Last week Thessaloniki saw riots in which 500 - 1000 demonstrators attacked the city’s central police station and take part in running street battles for hours. In addition there were 17 arson attacks on Friday by a revolutionary organisation calling itself the Conspiracy of the Cores of Fire.
Even more violent have been the armed attacks on police stations in Athens which left one police officer seriously injured after being shot while standing guard outside the Ministry of Culture signalling a rekindling of terrorism in the country.
Political and economic woes have added to calls for national elections by many unhappy with the government’s handling of a wide range of everyday issues such as employment, education and law enforcement.
Currently, Prime minister Kostas Karamanlis has just a slim one seat majority in parliament and is facing a series of clashes within his own cabinet as ministers manouever to position themselves for the possibility of national elections and a subsequent leadership battle.