Is Greece heading for disaster?

One week from today Greece goes to the polls to elect a new parliament, in a surprise election after the previous parliament failed to agree on a president. Once again, the election has all of Europe on edge. The leftist and anti-austerity party Syriza is leading in the polls, and the fear is that their victory could lead to a Greek exit from the EU. So what does Syriza want? Will their plan work? And will the Greeks vote for them? 

Protests in Athens against austerity

In the last Greek election in 2012 Syriza were painted as the party that wanted to quit the Euro, and their opponents warned of ‘Armageddon’ if they won. This time around Syriza is trying to avoid that sort of rhetoric. They claim they want to work with their ‘European partners’ (Germany), and that they want to stay in the Eurozone. Their young leader Alexis Tsipras speaks of stabilising the economy and ending austerity. He wants to provide healthcare again, raise wages, cut taxes and hire government employees. He also wants a deal to write off their 177% of GDP debt. However, this goes directly against the bailout deal set in place by the EU.

This deal meant that in exchange for hundreds of billions of dollars in new loans. Greece was been forced into austerity. Public jobs have been cut, wages lowered and welfare hammered. Despite recent growth, their economy has shrunk by a quarter and unemployment is 26%. Faith in politicians and the country’s future has been devastated. If the next Greek government doesn’t follow this program of austerity, access to new money – needed both to keep the country running and to pay off older debt – will be cut off.

Syriza wants to solve this issue through negotiations, hoping to get their money and lose the debt The problem is that the IMF and EU are not going to accept that. The way they see it, Greece made a deal to get itself out of its mess, and the deal must be held. The fact that Greece is utterly reliant on their foreign creditors makes this quite a significant disagreement. In a worst case scenario, this could lead to Greece defaulting on its loans and leaving the euro. This would cause financial chaos in the country, with bank runs, fleeing investment and immense uncertainty about the future. However, while it would hit EU growth, many experts think it’s unlikely to lead to complete disaster for the rest of Europe.

So will the Greeks vote for this uncertainty? All polls point to yes.To an outsider like myself, it’s hard to understand this. Syriza seems to be living in a dream world, where all their problems can be wished away. The party includes plenty of Marxists, and speaking as someone who saw the legacy of Marxism in Ukraine, those are not the people you want running your economy. While they might think Greece can simply drop the debt and go back to spending money, that’s not how the world works. Someone has to pay for years of terrible economic mismanagement and fraud. However, I haven’t had to live through 6 years of recession, see homelessness, hunger and suicide rates soar, and say goodbye to my dreams of a good future. In that situation, I might vote the same.

Austerity has had a huge effect on Greek society, and people are tired of struggling to survive. They’re also tired of being told what to do by the EU, and especially Angela Merkel. There is certainly something anti-democratic about the EU telling the Greeks “vote this way, or else”. However, the reality is that Germany and the EU wield a lot of power. Germany has already indicated that they will not be ‘blackmailed’ into making concessions. If Greece does vote Syriza next Sunday, they will be entering very uncertain waters.

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4 thoughts on “Is Greece heading for disaster?

  1. geokalpataru

    Hello! I ve read your article twice. It very much interests me what the ‘outsiders’ think about the coming elections. Well here is a view from an insider. First i have to inform you that i don’t belong to any political party here in Greece, that doesn’t mean i don’t have a political view on things. However, this particular government (which is a coalition of the main two political parties that governed Greece for the last 4 decades) has proved to be more than incompetent to solve the tragedies the country is facing. After all, they had power for more than 40 years to change Greece and make it a modern efficient country. However who led the country at this state?Of-course this government who now claims that can solve all these problems..pretty ironic hah? You claim in your article that if Syriza win the elections then the country is faced with many dangers, so why voters insist on supporting it? Well because they have seen firsthand, that there is no success story behind it. That nothing worked so far. The last 4 years (especially the last two) our world has come upside down. Rise of Unemployement, the catastrophy of the National Health System, and Education. Rise of suicides (due to financial problems citizens are facing), Rise of homeless people and people who search food from the garbage. Over 200,000 young scientists and university graduates have left the country, the rise of fascism and neo-nazi parties, no freedom of press . My generation has been destroyed over some signatures (which by the way come against any Greek and European Law).I could go on and on about the failure of this particular system that the government and some European Bureaucrats claim to be a success(many benefit from this) .There are facts if you research, you will find them. So why people vote for an upcoming disaster? Well because disaster was already here and have been living with it for a long time. It is not something that will come now.. Sorry for my long comment and thank you for this article.

    Reply
    1. andreinternational Post author

      Thank you very much for your interesting reply! As I said, I’m an outsider, and it’s very valuable to get the view of someone who lives in Greece. It’s terrible to see what your country has gone through over the last few years, and hard to imagine what it’s like. From my perspective I can’t see Syriza helping matters, but on the other hand it’s definitely true that PASOK and New Democracy don’t really offer a any change. It’s hard to see a way out. However, while I am pessimistic about Syriza, I truly hope this election changes Greece for the better. Its people deserve some hope!

      Reply
  2. geokalpataru

    I am going to agree with you, i can’t see, either, Syriza helping matters. What i wanted to point out is that the only ones who have something to lose from this coming elections are the ones who truly benefit from the present situations ( Government, friends of the government, banks, media and certain newspapers and the elite, oligarchy (much of the media in Greece is owned by them) There are many award winning documentaries about this, that have been made over the last two years from Greek and foreigner journalists and filmmakers, respectively. As for the citizens of Greece, well they don’t have much to lose really.. Thank you for your answer. Have a good day!

    Reply
  3. Pingback: Grexit – A battle of principles | Your World Explained

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