I have just come back from the polling station, having cast my vote, the first time I have voted in Greek national elections. It should have been an historic occasion except that this is a non-vote. The agenda was set by former Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras who signed a third punishing bailout agreement and which was supported overwhelmingly by the Greek Parliament. This effectively gives Greece's sovereignty away with the country becoming a semi-colonial appendage of the EU. This full capitulation to the demands of the Troika will mean more suffering for the Greek people. Every 'red line' the Syriza government had maintained has been crossed, from pensions cuts to VAT increases, whilst the pace of spending cuts mandated guarantee continual misery.
Even worse, the deal contains two measures that strip Greece of its economic sovereignty. Greece will place £50bn of its government assets in a special fund, held as surety against its future good behaviour. The deal also demands that the Greek government 'consult and agree with the Institutions on all draft legislation in relevant areas with adequate time before submitting it for public consultation or to Parliament'. This is something more akin to a deal forced on a nation defeated in war. For all this, Greece gains almost nothing. Greece's debt is unsustainable on any plausible timescale. The 'bailout' is money for Greece to pay off its debts. The bailout, in other words, is a bailout of the banks, not of Greece.
The government that gets elected today will have to implement all of this. No wonder no one is excited about this election. Apathy and disgust are the predominant feelings. Most people I know are still undecided. They intend to either abstain or make a decision on the spot.
The turn-out looked good. Voting in Greece is compulsory.
Some of the parties had set out their stalls outside the school that served as a polling station.
Popular Unity: NO will prevail.
KKE (Communist Party): 'There is a way forward'.
Syriza: 'We will win the tomorrow'.
New Democracy: no caption, just a photograph of Vangelis Meimarakis.
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Two images from social media encapsulate the situation:
'Who do I vote for tomorrow? The thief or the liar?'
Syriza's electoral victory was in part a reaction against the previous governments, New Democracy and PASOK, whose corruption, concern with lining their own pockets and total disregard for the suffering of the people of Greece were seen as totally unacceptable. PASOK is finished, and now, despite their crushing defeat in January New Democracy are seen as possible winners in this election. Meanwhile, the disillusionment with Syriza is overwhelming, and Tsipras is seen as a liar.
'No problem. You can vote for whoever you like'.
A triumphant Wolfgang Schauble in this image has no worries about this election. Greece's sovereignty has been signed off - the result of this election is immaterial.
Greece is stuck between Schylla and Charybdis and whoever wins this election will make no difference to the situation the country finds itself in. Punishing measures will have to be implemented. The die has been cast. It was cast weeks ago by the so-called left wing government of Syriza, and its leader Alexis Tsipras, who lied to the Greek people.
Outside one of the classrooms of the school that served as a polling station is this mural, a copy of Guernica by Picasso. Appropriate for the occasion? I think so.