A Citizen’s Guide to Greece 2015


May 9, 2012

Four things we learned on May 6

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Written by: DW

By David Wisner

The crisis in Greece is political. Very few of the reforms the governments of George Papandreou and Lucas Papademos pledged to undertake in exchange for loans from the Troika have materialized. The evaluation of public sector employees to have begun this week has been put off indefinitely. Very little has been done with promised privatizations. Closed professions remain by and large closed. Thinking of Alexis Tsipras’ public statements Monday, it seems clear that the crux of the matter is the survival of a crucial patronage network, which is poised to pass from Pasok to Syriza. The question asked by many is how long the Greek economy can last without some semblance of real reform.

The boys from Amherst had their moment. Much has been made of the fact that socialist former Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou and Antonis Samaras, leader of the conservative New Democracy, were classmates at Amherst College. Had the former been more forceful in pursuing his reform projects, had the latter not insisted on holding early elections, who knows whether the center would not have held better on May 6. The specter of class and ideological war is real, as Nikos Konstandaras pointed out in Kathimerini Monday, and the fate of what is left of the Greek middle class hangs in the balance.

The international media dropped the ball. The performance of international media outlets covering the crisis from Athens and elsewhere in Greece has generally been impressive on the economic and social dimensions of the Greek crisis. They dropped the ball when it came to the more extremist elements of the Greek political system, however. The insights of Takis Michas in today’s Wall Street Journal should really not be revelations given previous public statements from the leader of Syriza, particularly with respect to the “barbarous” character of the Memorandum. Nor should the rise of Golden Dawn really appear to have come out of the blue.

France matters. There has been a mild tug of war in the media over which election result, that of France or that of Greece, is more important from a European perspective. Given preemptive attempts by representatives of the Greek left, reminiscent as they are to periodic statements by George Papandreou, to represent the situation in Greece as merely a symptom of a pan-European crisis, it will be critical to see where French President-elect François Hollande falls on this question. Will he pursue the anti-austerity rhetoric of his election campaign, and launch a “European spring,” or will he adopt a cautious approach and not risk a rupture in Franco-German relations. A statesman’s role awaits Hollande, if he wishes to play it.

One Comment

  1. hemen parekh

    Who can sack the voters ?

    Apparently , no one

    But voters of Europe are sacking their Prime Ministers / Politicians left & right.

    Here is a brief list :

     Italy ……………………. Silvio Berlusconi

     Britain ………………… Gordon Brown

     Greece ……………….. George Papendreou

     Spain …………………. Jose Zapatero

     Ireland ……………….. Brian Cowen

     Portugal …………….. Jose Socrates

     France ………………… Nicolas Sarkozy

    Who are next ?

     Germany ………………. Angela Merkel ?

     India ……………………. ManMohan Singh ?

    And what was their fault ?

    They spoke bitter truth which people did not want to hear , viz:,

    “ We must cut back on Government borrowing – and spending. We need to lower our standard of living, in order to avoid State bankruptcy “

    And all this when , petty corruption cost the debt-ridden Greece , Euro 554 million in 2011 , as per National Survey on Corruption !

    Mayans were wrong

    World will not come to an end in 2012

    World – Order will !

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