Posts tagged ‘austerity measures’

A mixed bag of news, thoughts and arguments

Today is the first really cloudy, autumn like day in Athens. News is rampant from all sides and citizens go about their business with their heads lowered and lost in their thoughts.

The prevalent mood is despair and insecurity. While the government announces that we are on the “road to development” the Troika talks about new taxes and austerity measures.

The neo –nazi formation of Golden Dawn is officially accused of being a criminal organization and its leader is in prison. According to news reports the Greek Parliament will tonight discuss and vote on removing the immunity of three Golden Dawn MPs so that they can be prosecuted. At the same time the Metsovion Polytechnic School staff is staging a concert in memory of the 32 year old anti-fascist rapper murdered by Golden Dawn thugs.

The news broadcasts are dominated by long and detailed reports on Golden Dawn acts: attacks against immigrants, actors, and speeches during which leading members of the fascist organization openly threatened democracy!! To the viewers the reporters’ “surprise” at the Golden Dawn doings is to say the least insulting since it is obvious that they knew the activities and just chose to keep silent.

Three out of eight Greek universities have submitted the names of their administrative staff that can be laid off. The European Commission has given the green light to the takeover of Olympic air (the private company that “bought” the state run Olympic airways) by Aegean air. In this way a state monopoly is replaced by a private monopoly system. In a press statement SYRIZA, major opposition party, underlines the fact that this constitutes a threat to the country’s cohesion.

On the other hand, .there are still people struggling to keep their spirits up and safeguard their livelihoods against all attacks. In Chalkidiki, in Macedonia, in Aghios Panteleimonas in Athens and so on. It is an unfair battle but let us hope that justice and right will prevail over greed and might.


Greek government negotiating its stance

The leaders of the three parties which comprise the Greek government are still in a meeting trying to come to an agreement regarding the new austerity measures.

The difficulty has risen due to the new labour laws proposed. Fotis Kouvelis’Democratic Left party has stated that they cannot agree with such measures while PASOK is hesitatingly discussing them.
The new austerity measures, including the labour laws proposed, have to be ratified by the Greek Parliament. This move has already caused casualties: a New Democracy MP has been expelled from the party Parliamentary Group while a Demoocratic Left MP left his party’s Parliamentary Group on his own.
Alexis Tsipras, leader of SYRIZA, stated during an interview that these will be the first austerity measures that will not be ratified by the Parliament.
It is true that the Troika intervention in the private sector of the economy is regarded as utterly irregular and beyond their jurisdiction.

January 8 – a very sketchy overview of the state Greek society is in

Theofaneia, the commemoration of Christ’s baptismal, is a very important day in the Greek Orthodox calendar. It is also, together with Saint John’s the Baptist celebration on the 7th of January, the time when we expect the bad weather to begin in Greece, when we take down the Christmas decorations and the official end of the festive season.
This year it is a little bit different: there were less decorative lights on balconies, less and cheaper presents were exchanged and the people who “went away” for the holidays were put up by friends and families in their village homes.
In the world of politics – which seems to us, Greek citizens, to be an entirely different universe – ex Prime Minister Mr. Papandreou is trying to keep his party, Panhellenic  Socialist Movement  – better known as  PASOK –  together. Mr. Samaras of New Democracy Party is trying to differentiate his party from the harsh austerity measures of the “transitional” Government of Mr. Papadimos. Mr. Karatzaferis, President of the Greek Orthodox Rally, the third party of the present government,  threatens that unless the other two parties decide to “cooperate  and work for the government” he will revise his support.
The relative euphoria Greek citizens expressed to opinion polls after Mr. Papadimos became Prime Minister has evaporated and with good cause.
After the festive season people are left alone to face debts, unemployment and heavy taxation.  Not a very auspicious beginning for 2012

The 19-20 October protests a turning point

The two day protests (19-20 October) of the Greek working people constitute a landmark in modern Greek history. The protests of October have fundamental differences from the protests of last summer.

In spite of the Government’s hopes, the doubts of the right wing opposition, the hesitation of the new left and the downright skepticism of the Communist party Syntagma Square continued to attract anti-austerity protesters. It is true that it was a completely uncoordinated crowd: from the nationalist wing to the apolitical, self-serving taxi drivers, from the unemployed to the civil servants, from the extreme right wing to the rebellious students, from the General Confederation of Greek workers to the shop keepers union. All these groups were brought together by their inability to survive under the austerity measures and the heavy and unjust taxation imposed in the name of “national salvation”.

This rising, heterogeneous movement was headless. The new factor in this uprising is that the Communist party of Greece decided to claim the hegemony of the movement. PAME, a Unionist Front by its own definition, the Communist party’s expression in the union movement, stated their decision to protest in Syntagma Square on the 19th and to take part in the Parliament siege on the 20th. This announcement was hailed as positive by the majority of the other groups of the movement since it would reinforce the common struggle. What was not immediately clear was that PAME considered the Square as its own grounds and did not take kindly, to say the least, to other forces, like the “DEN PLIRONO” ( “I don’t pay movement”)demonstrating next to them.

This attitude is not new in the purist attitude of the Communist Party of Greece. Their protests and marches are always strictly organized and separate from the other forces in order to protect them from agents provocateurs. The Syntagma Square crowd is something unknown to them. The clashes were inevitable and when the hooded so-called anarchists tried to go through the PAME ranks to reach the Parliament a full assault developed. The police stayed back, throwing tear gas and chemicals only when directly attacked.

The outcome of a few hours of generalized street fighting was one of the PAME protesters dead and several others injured.

On the political level the great loss was that the focus was turned away from the real issue, the voting of the new austerity measures in Parliament, to the fights outside it.

The only casualty in Parliament was Ms Luca Katseli, former Finance Minister, who voted against article 37 of the new law and was ousted from the PASOK Parliamentary group.