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Greek politicians vie for struggling youth vote

STORY: Ahead of an election, Greek politicians are turning to social media apps like TikTok to win the youth vote.

But after a deep economic slump, a pandemic and a cost-of-living crises, they will have to contend with the average under-30 electorate who feels as though they lost their youth, like Eirini Baliaka.

“I am generally an optimistic and happy person, but when I try and see the big picture, I feel lost, from the beginning of the game, from the locker rooms.”

The 28-year-old physics student aspires to be a teacher.

A decade after entering university - juggling jobs to pay the bills - she says she's no closer to that dream.

It’s young voters like Baliaka who pose a challenge for parties across the political spectrum.

“I think Greece keeps you in a state of stagnation, because of the bad or few opportunities it gives you, which does not give you the motivation to move forward. Just knowing that even if I get my degree I won't be paid as a graduate in 90% of the jobs out there is nullifying in itself.”

As Greece’s population ages, this generation is vital for the country’s economic outlook.

Young voters only represent about 18% of the electorate. But many remain undecided.

And with a new electoral system making an outright winner unlikely, every vote counts.

Lamprini Rori is an assistant professor of political analysis at Athens University.

“Politicians want to feel close to the youth because the youth symbolizes the future and hope, so they cannot be indifferent. But also given the fact that during the crisis we have had almost 500,000 of people, the majority of whom were young people, leaving the country, exiting in order to find better opportunities and better living conditions abroad I think they don't have now this luxury of being indifferent towards the young generation.”

Eighty-two percent of young people say they intend to vote, according to a think tank survey.

Although - only 35% believe elections can improve things.

Baliaka is among those thinking of leaving the country altogether.

“I would not want to leave, everyone is here, my family, my companions, my friends, but the last two years I have caught myself thinking about it. There are days when I come back from a 12-hour shift, my partner the same, and we calculate what we made during those 12 hours compared to other European countries, and I get depressed, I feel a sense of futility, that is the basic feeling, futility.”