Friday 7 September 2012

A tense week in Greek politics

It's been a tense week in Greek politics and next week will be equally so.

First of all, the latest unemployment figures were released:

One in four Greeks is unemployed and the prognosis is that by the beginning of 2013, unemployment will have reached 29%, namely almost one in three. More analytically, the figures are as follows: 55% of those aged 15-24, 28.1% of women and 21.5% of men. Every day in June, 1,688 people lost their job.

Everyone is waiting to see what the latest austerity measures will be that will satisfy the Troika and release the next loan. The ones that are going to be the most painful are the cuts in benefits and pensions:

Since 2010 pensions have been cut by 40% and further cuts between 2% and 15%  are on the cards. Supplementary pensions are to be slashed by 35%.

When pensioners mobilised this week and went to see the Minister for Health, he told them that they were bullies and liars:  liars because they expressed concerns about the on-going crisis in healthcare which leaves insured patients liable for the full cost of prescription drugs.

The two months annual bonuses given to workers and pensioners are also due to be eliminated completely, leaving people with even less disposable income.

The Troika is also asking 'for the working week to be increased to six days and setting the maximum daily rest to 11 hours (13 hour day)'. I have been pondering over this for days and cannot figure it out - what does it mean? Do they mean for all sectors and all workers? Isn't that against EU laws?

All of the above is the reality of the situation for Greek people today. It is a situation that is rapidly becoming a humanitarian crisis. But even louder alarm bells are ringing in my ears.

According to a poll conducted by To Pontiki newspaper, conservative ND have dipped from 29.7 to 25%,  while support for leftist SYRIZA also fell by 3% to 24%. Support for social democratic PASOK dropped to fourth place with 8% of  the vote, and the Democratic Left dropped to 4.5% a shrinkage of nearly 2%.

Support for the neo-Nazi party has now reached 10.5%, up nearly 4 points which, were elections to be held now, would make it the third largest party.

A steep rise in unemployment is often accompanied by a rise in extreme right wing groups as the suffering populace is looking for scapegoats to blame, in this case the immigrant population - the neo-Nazi party are 'promising' the Greek people that they will rid them of the 'stench' of immigrants.

History is repeating itself, not only in scapegoating immigrants, but also in the blind eye that all Western governments are turning to the rise of this destructive force. In the last two weeks two delegates of the Troika and the IMF have refused to meet the leader of the Opposition, Alexis Tsipras - yet again, the left is seen as a much bigger threat than a fascist party despite the havoc that fascism wreaked on Europe and beyond.

I despair....

For daily updates on Greece and lots more on current affairs go to



    An interesting article on the tensions of modern greece.

    1. A good article, Avril. I think it's important for stories of how people are coping (or not) to be published, as statistics don't have the same effect - they can be easily dismissed or forgotten.