Although fears about bank runs have been quieted, the uncertainty has caused many Greeks to take at least a portion of their savings out of their accounts. “Right before elections, nothing was moving, it was like people were in shock. No deposits, no withdrawals. Two days after elections, the panic started,” said a banker in a branch in downtown Athens who declined to give her name.
“I’ve witnessed a loyal customer closing her account, all 150,000 euros of it, putting it in her handbag, and walking out the branch,” the banker said. She added that it was more common for people to take out smaller amounts, 3,000 to 5,000 euros, or about $4,000 to $6,500.
Some say that Greece is at a historical turning point — and a risky one. The May 6 election results were “national suicide,” said Theodoros Pangalos, a Socialist Party veteran and former deputy prime minister. He said that Greece had revealed its tendency for self-harm in 1922, in bloody conflicts as the Ottoman Empire collapsed and again in a civil war after World War II.