Greek parties - and pirates - spring up ahead of election

Fri Mar 16, 2012 10:32am EDT
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By Harry Papachristou

ATHENS (Reuters) - Greek voters will have a long list of parties to choose from in an election to be held by early May, as new groups spring up on the left and right, including one band of Internet-savvy "Pirates".

While many of them will win nowhere near the 3 percent of the vote needed to enter parliament, they can still chip away at support for those backing the international bailout Greece needs to avoid immediate default.

Rebel lawmakers and angry citizens have formed four new parties this week alone, riding a wave of frustration at decades of political cronyism and mismanagement that has plunged Greece into a debt crisis and its deepest recession since World War Two.

One of these groups - the Pirates - is a Greek offshoot of a successful political movement in Sweden and Germany that claims no right- or left-wing allegiance and instead seeks transparent government and greater freedom and privacy of Internet use.

Its members paid 5 euros each on Sunday to cover the costs of an unassuming hotel room where they held their first gathering in Athens.

"I'm dreaming of a different Greece, with different politicians," Dimitris Vagenas, a laid-off airline employee, told the audience of about 40 people, mostly casually dressed 30- to 40-year-old men in the computer business.

The party has registered about 650 members and voted via the Internet this week to stand in the elections.

"We're here to stay," spokesman Anestis Samourkasidis, 42, told Reuters.   Continued...

Spokesman of the Pirates party Anestis Samourkasidis, 42, works behind a laptop screen displaying a logo of the party during its first gathering in a hotel in Athens March 11, 2012. REUTERS/John Kolesidis