von Konstantinos Koulocheris, 20.7.15
In the kickoff of the Second World War the Greek public stood next to Ioannis Metaxas, who was an oppressive dictator at the time. The reason behind this movement had nothing to do with Metaxas’ questionable democratic approaches; it was because he stood up with an “OXI” (NO for greeks) against the Axis of Italy and Germany threat back then, to offend the sovereignty of the nation. Seventy years later, Greek people appear confused on whether it is right or not to rally with its democratically elected Prime Minister, Alexis Tsipras on his effort to reform Greece and abolish austerity.
The situation in the country reached its climax; jobless reflect more than 30% of the population, while long queues at the ATM emerged due to an unprecedented bank-run. All these put together a mosaic of general fear for what’s next. The options seem full of despair; either another term of hardcore taxation with austerity or a chaotic bankruptcy outside the European Union. The absence of a clear alternative plan by the Greek government in case of a Grexit has been a worry not only for the global markets and external investments, but also for those suffering lower classes such as farmers, pensioners, unemployed and whatever left from the middle class. They have all been promised reforms and fair taxation in order to boost the “real economy” Tsipras so often refers to.
Tsipras’ chosen path of negotiations for the bailout of Greece followed the above principles and was widely accepted with hope. He didn’t hesitate to lead the greek public to the ballot to cast a vote in a referendum for or against austerity. The mandate he received from the referendum was supposed to give him the strength to keep on what the greek representatives have been doing the past months; negotiating to the end but without Grexit. The greek leadership found itself in a theoretical strong position but this wasn’t enough to regain the lost trust from the creditors’ side following SYRIZA’s negotiating methods.
Until the writing of these paragraphs, the medias landscape in Greece has been balancing on a vicious rope between a demolishing bankruptcy outside the euro-area for the country and hardcore austerity. Even the greek public broadcaster, ERT – a corporation expected to be friendly to government’s program since its reopening because of SYRIZA three years after its controversial closure, giving to more than 2,000 their jobs back – alternated its views towards the character of the deal will arose from the negotiations. In other media houses, scepticism dominates any coverage since the referendum and onwards. Meanwhile, trending hashtags on the social media refer to a coup d’etat, underlining unfair practices by the European institutions towards the Greek issue. The demonstrations and riots began to arose in central parts of Athens with intense strikes in transportation and public services brought Greece back to the times of uncertainty.
The list of demands published in the aftermath of the European leaders’ summit, provoked a controversy not only in the Greek public but also internationally. As of today, the game seems to be over. The same stands for any prospect of a Grexit as the austerity bill passed – with 32 SYRIZA MPs against it – under the pressure of more or less a million protesters outside the Greek Parliament.
This, of course, is not to say that the consequences of the “agreekment“ will be discussed in intense debates inside and out the greek parliament in the time to come. Tsipras’ fight for alternatives to austerity seems to be lost at the moment, but the war for reforms in Greece is still on. The question is whether Alexis Tsipras is the one to deliver them.