August 18, 2012
It is barely two months since the coalition government was formed in Greece and its future is at stake. It is without doubt that the critical problem that the government is faced with is not linked with the diverging ideologies of the three parties forming it, but with the inadequate character of its government vis-à-vis the austerity measures that can no longer be implemented in practice.
New Democracy -the leading party of the coalition- along with the Panhellenic Socialist Movement and the Democratic Left while seeming to get along with each other, they do completely avoid what they were declaring during the pre-electoral period. All three were for the re-negotiation of the bailout plan as austerity measures could no longer find ground of social support. Nonetheless, they escaped their binding statements and aside dropping out the issue of re-negotiation, as troika was not even slightly willing to discuss it, they managed to insert new wage and pension cuts. In other words, while pretending to be re-elected in order to comfort social grievances, they look like being the first to re-ignite them directly.
It goes without saying that the Greek electorate is completely puzzled and confused with what is really going on. The two previous governments, the one elected with the Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) ruling from 2009 until 2011, and the second one not being elected with Loucas Papademos ahead could no more find any kind of support, both inside and outside the Parliament, so the only solution was to go to the ballot box. In two rounds, in May and June, the results were astonishing as they were illustrating the deep chasm of the Greek society under the proclaimed dilemma “Staying or leaving eurozone” -a dilemma that was finally proved to be literally rhetoric as no one could shape the post-euro era in Greece. Both the coalition government and the front opposition.
In this respect, and regardless of who is governing the country, Greece is no more faced with a dilemma, but with a new big question: Is the exit of Greece already prepared, and if yes, why and when people will get to know it? Here there are few explanations need to be mentioned to get the entire image.
First, it is rumoured that Greece is forced to exit eurozone and both Brussels and Athens are getting secretly prepared for that. According to this scenario Greece will return to drachma and transactions and payments will get automatically shifted to the old currency. Yet there is no information on whether Greece will declare bankruptcy or just get rid of euro. Even if this scenario is streaming the media and the society, still with no official claim, it does not seem that plausible as the coalition government is moving to the different direction trying to keep Greece inside the euro with additional austerity measures. If Greece was to leave euro, why all three parties are increasing people’s harship instead of pressing for more lenient negotiational terms with troika?
Second, there are also rumours dealing with the stance of Chancellor Merkel in the days to come regarding the affrontation of the Greek case. It is said that she will be less strict both to the implementation of the austerity program in Greece and the liquidity of the European Stabilization Mechanism (ESM) as an additional source of soaring Greek economy – a case still pending for approval from the German Constitutional Court. In this respect, I am really wondering if the real problem of Greece is the lack of liquidity or the the survive of the Greek people. And even if both are said to be supposedly interconnected, there is a need for a 360-shift of the prism both the European Union and the Greek leadership is dealing with debt crisis. The real problem that has to be mentioned is the fact that whatever the amount of debt is, there is no solution and no way of decreasing it if the people who could otherwise pay can no longer pay their daily, vital expenses. Therefore, even if we used to say that Greece was solely responsible for its debt crisis, now there is also and equally the European Union responsible for the stagnation of the Greek debt crisis as the bailout plans and the measures agreed lead to nowhere than social chaos and a potential nation-wide unrest and hostilities.
Third, it is time to discuss in Greece how its people and its economy can get rid of the crisis and start producing growth in the context of the dependent variable of euro. In other words, the discussion should be focused on how to produce and bring investments in the country and not whether or not Greece will leave the eurozone. Greece may leave or may stay in eurozone and this has nothing to do with unleashing forces of growth. Even if for Greece being outside the eurozone there is the optional tool of monetary policy and the issuance of money, this cannot guarantee growth or better standards of leaving. Thus, to my point of view, the question is not whether Greece will stay in eurozone, but what the political leadership and the entrepreneurial world can do to retrack economy and bring new jobs.Dimitris Rapidis