Forwards and don't forget - Greece before the elections
Updated: Apr 10
In the coming months, there will be elections in Greece on the local, regional, national and European level. The question of the role of the European Union (EU) goes through the political and public discussions about the effects of the global finance crisis in Germany like a red thread. Time for a recap of the tragedy
Its been 9 years since the beginning of the Greek crisis, when three “rescue packages” were passed by the “Troika” of the EU, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the European Central Bank (ECB). There is a divergence of opinions about the results.
When the last “rescue package” expired in Summer 2018, the EU and Greek government outdid each other with euphoric statements: the EU Commisioner for Economic and Monetary affairs Pierre Moscovici spoke of the “end of the whole EU crisis”, and the Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras of a “new epoch for Greece” after the “long-time odyssey”.
The truth shows that we are far away from an end to rule from afar. The Greek national debt has now reached the level of €350 million – in 2015 it was €320 million. On top of this, there are regular controls in Athens to ensure the implementation of cuts, privatisation and neoliberal reforms. Greece must monetarize 3.5% of its budget surpluses by 2022.
The majority of the Greek population who since 2010 have experienced the hardest cuts package in Western Europe since the war, haven’t believed in the promises and exhortations to keep going for a long time. Above everything, many Greeks cannot forget that they were suddenly given the blame for gigantic debts for which they had no responsibility.
Since the first “rescue package” in 2010, there have been tax increases and drastic cuts to pensions, benefits and public services. The result was massive burdens for households with low or average income. Because of missing public investments, the economy stagnated and unemployment stayed high.
Nearly a million young people have left the country. Those who have stayed have been named after their monthly income. On 2010, they were still “Generation 700”. Now they are “Generation 400”.
We have also not forgotten Summer 2015. After the newly elected left government under Alexis Tsipras was not able to achieve anything anything by negotiation, they allowed the Greek people a vote on the EU austerity politics.
Notwithstanding all attempts be the EU and the German government to intimidate voters with the threat of a hard Grexit and chaotic conditions, 61% of Greeks said “Oxi” (No), sending a clear message to Brussels and Berlin. But this referendum was simply ignored and the Greek government carried out the demands of the EU.
Power and Countervailing Power
Since 2010, Conservatives (New Democracy), Social Democrats (PASOK) and the Left (SYRIZA) from three difference parties have led the government with different coalition partners. But being in office is not the same as being in power.
In Greece the EU has shown its true, capitalist, face. It was not Greece that was saved, but the Greek and European banking sector – and this was on the backs of working people.
The politics of the EU and the orientation on the profits of banks and big business does not just destroy Greece, but the whole of Europe. The problem is called capitalism. Internationalist, fighting movements in solidarity against banks and corporations must organise together across borders, in order to answer Berthold Brecht’s timeless question:
“Whose morning is the morning? Whose world is the world?”
The original version of this article appeared in German in Neuköllnisch - magazine of die LINKE Neukölln