But this analysis does not fully explain what is happening in Greece.
Among those responsible for this Greek tragedy is a political class that used votes as goods of exchange. Each time a party won an election the public sector expanded, says Panos Kazakos, a professor at the University of Athens. After all, establishing a limited company required the presentation of 200 pages of certificates, he notes, while a public sector desk job could be had just by tapping the right contacts.
Since votes were bought, no one paid much attention to economic policy: today’s situation makes clear the perfidy of this oversight.
Today, Greeks who lived through the military junta find it hard to believe that the democratic state, seen as a “good father”, could have made so many mistakes: that it could have laid off 200,000 people in the past 12 months, cut pensions by 25 per cent and state salaries by 60 per cent. The graffiti covering the drawn shutters of downtown Athens stores suggest a Star Wars battle of two worlds: “evil” Germany has imposed austerity on “good” Greece. Newspaper cartoons frequently depict Angela Merkel in a Nazi uniform. In Greece, one truly feels one is “in the trenches” – but in a war where no one knows who the enemy is.
In exchange for the most recent financing, the Greek government has had to cede part of its sovereignty to the Troika (the European Union, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund). The lobby of the elegant Hotel Grande Bretagne on Syntagma Square swarms with north European lawyers and bureaucrats and their assistants laden with files. It is they who now determine Greece’s future. Many come from the law firms that advise the giants of global finance and the EU, the very institutions that helped create the Greek debt crisis.
Greece increasingly looks more like a company in administration than a nation in crisis. The troika is organising the first funeral of a European nation state, to replace it with a Teutonic company run by foreign professionals. Greeks intuit this but cannot rationally accept such betrayal by the “father” state. In the streets of Athens, where the unemployed wander aimlessly and old people beg, one can see the slow shredding of western democracy.
I'm going to a friend's place on Sunday to watch the Finland-Slovakia match in the Ice Hockey World Championship, and after that's we're gonna watch France24's English version's broadcast on the Presidential election, as well as a live stream of the Greek election.
I'm not ashamed to admit that I'm more excited about Finland's game (we're a hockey people,) but the elections are gonna be a thrill, too.
I prefer football, though.
But then, you're a British person and you like the EU and want more federalism, so yeah, I guess we're not walking stereotypes after all.
(Or that's what I keep reminding me while I sip my beer and yell at the screen as I watch Finland's goals against Sweden in last year's final over and over and over again.)
France: Sarkozy v Hollande on the economy
Interestingly, both Sarkozy and Hollande have promised to Balance the Budget (Sarkozy: 2016; Hollande: 2017), but Hollande also intends to raise taxes, including introducing a 75% income tax of those earning over 1 million Euros, and a new 45% tax band on people with annual incomes above 450,000 Euros. As well, Hollande is also committed to equilibrium between the euro, dollar and yuan.
75% income tax... I can feel some Tories combust just thinking about that figure for top-rate payers.
Before talking equilibrium with other currencies even in the long-term, I'd be tempted to sort the foundations of your own house out and keep my mouth shut until they're less rocky, myself. But, the idea is a nice one. Doubt the realism, though.
Meh: I stick with two stereotypes though: football and more football! And, not the oval kind of ball, neither. Then, I defy: I prefer real ale to wine. Yes, I'm still a girl. I don't have to like shoe-shopping, either.
For those who are unhappy about how the government of Greece has been going about paying their debts (cutting social programs rather than increasing taxes,) you should take a look at the predicted results of the election there.