von Konstantinos Koulocheris, 25.8.15
Week #4, Tuesday, 25th of August, 2015, Athens, 31°C, Mostly Clear and Dry.
The end of the summer in Greece always serves as a psychological catalyst. It reflects a widespread mental shift as most people return from holidays, runaways, escaping and when they begin to ritually get back to the humdrum of their daily routine. August in particular is typically a dead time for media as there is often a struggle to fill airtime and headlines, as this time of year is generally devoid of hardcore breaking news.
The above however does not ring true in Greece this August. The ramifications of this summer’s historic events has bucked the trend of a peaceful and chilled summer, where nothing noteworthy really happens.
The announcement of another call to the ballots — the third within eight months — by the Greek Prime Minister, Alexis Tsipras last week, only days after the signing of another memorandum, has dispelled any political and social norms in the country.
This act followed up on a disastrous period which polarised the Greek public with a referendum that was widely misinterpreted by mainstream media as being related to the future of Greece’s membership in the EU. The occurrence of capital controls and the end of the negotiations’ fight in Brussels, which led to the agreement of the worse austerity package Greece has ever agreed to, completes the picture of a country in despair.
The impact of the above has not left SYRIZA unharmed. In less than eight months, the coalition government has practically lost their majority in the parliament with 48 MPs defecting. The perspectives expressed by them stand against SYRIZA’s newly adopted policies and they have not lost time establishing their own far left-wing political platform. This means that they will officially stand in opposition to SYRIZA in September’s election adopting positions close to what their old party had before getting the lead.
It is true that SYRIZA’s promises of a seemingly viable renegotiation of the national debt did not work out. Their argument when they won the January elections was premised on the fact that no nation can survive borrowing 24 billion euros with additional interest, only to pay back 23,5 billion of it back to creditors, hence leaving no room left for investment or growth. This nevertheless was not enough to secure a better agreement in Brussels.
The question that has arisen in the aftermath of this political trail is what the reaction of the electorate will be? Most of the available choices on the table have been tested – and failed. The lack of fresh perspectives in the popular political parties – such as centre to left and centre to right respectively has been critical. And this, not only in Greece but all across the EU, is usually fertile ground for extremists.
The Greek people are likely now lamenting the loss of the boring August routines they were used to from previous years…
Cartoon von Sotiris Varelas (c)