Sunday, February 12, 2012

Waiting for the Greek Götterdämmerung

Prime minister Lukas Papademos last night warned his fellow Greeks that failure to reach agreement on the latest austerity measures in parliament today would bring disaster to the indebted nation. Such dramatic talk in perhaps hardly surprising in the country that gave the world the word, apocalypse and reflects the fear those in power feel about the possibility that the legislation will not pass, or even worse will produce a wave of protest so intense that it will stall its implementation.

For the last three days there have been a series of strikes and marches against the latest cuts and job losses, but they are just a warm up for the big event which will take place later today at 5pm Athens times when people will start to gather for a series of nationwide rallies.

For over two years Greek voters have been told that austerity will save the country and yet all people have seen is a huge drop in living standards as the economy has collapsed and prices have soared. Caught between these two pincers many have despaired that will be able to survive financially as bills pill up and incomes from pensions and wages keep on falling.

Greek riot police outside finance minister's political office - Thessaloniki, Greece

The situation has not been helped by a political system that is widely despised as being both inept and deeply corrupt. This has been reflected not only in the falling poll figures for those parties in power but also the seemingly endless clashes between riot police and protesters that occur whenever government members are spotted in public.

Those who call upon Greeks to make more sacrifices are exactly those most unwilling to give up the priviledges they have accrued whilst in power, a fact that few outside parliament have failed to notice.

The reality is that Greece has ceased to be a sovereign nation in anything but name, it's economic policy, spending decision and hence the vast majority of decision usually made in the name of the nation state are being dictated by the country's creditors who have demanded a heavy tribute in return for their intervention.

Greek protester on anti-austerity demonstration in Thessaloniki, Greece

The fiscal policies being imposed have slashed GDP, pushed up unemployment and all but destroyed any real chance of the economy recovering for the forseeable future. In such a situation using talk of bankruptcy to scare people into supporting yet more of the same is simply not going to succeed as so many have, to all intents and purposes already been bankrupted.

What is left for the government and its supporters in the the media, (which to a large extent is controlled by domestic oligarchs heavily invested in the banking sector) are a series of crude threats warning of massive shortages in food and other basic goods should the country renege on its debt agreements.

Tonight in Athens's Syntagma Square we will see if the riot police can contain the groundswell of popular anger now building up. It will be a scene repeated in towns and cities across the country as people gather once more to say no to a future which holds nothing but poverty and decline for the next decade.

1 comment:

Another E-450 user said...

I arrived here through a search for Creative Commons images of the Greek Riots, and I find that, despite what your footer claims, your images are licensed through those grasping corporate assholes, Getty Images. Nice one!