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The Prime Minister, after 12 hours of "discussions" and "bargains" with the Conservative party leader Antonis Samaras, and well after it was announced that we are heading for a National Unity government led by him, changed his mind and around 10 o clock, announced that this whole charade was in order for him to reshuffle cabinet posts (possibly including "technocrats" - a term that sends shivers down my spine as it usually means "indoctrinated neoliberal ideologues") on Friday.

This theater of the absurd all day today, has made me pity the poor man: he is obviously so dumbfounded and without a clue as to what is happening that he can't help making a spectacle off himself even on critical issues (and critical for the whole world, judging from the fact that BBC news has consistently kept the developments in Greece as their leading story, today)...

And there were the demos / strikers of course. Like nothing I've seen before on many counts. Syntagma has started looking more like Tahrir than Puerta del Sol... I suppose though that I should write a diary about those? Perhaps tomorrow if you are all not too fed up with Greece-related posts... Otherwise I'll add a comment here...

Meanwhile: Paul Mason's "Greek state starting to lose grip on functions of state", is probably the most insightful description of the situation in Greece that I've seen reported by any foreign correspondent (despite the awkward title!). This photo, from the steps of Syntagma square today, summarizes a lot of what Mason is saying:

It reads "Decide now: By helicopter or by hearse"

[See also murplejane's excellent collection of photos from today's events]

The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom - William Blake

by talos (mihalis at gmail dot com) on Wed Jun 15th, 2011 at 06:49:04 PM EST
And two videos:
RT News crew tastes Greek police teargas (the canisters of which have expiration dates circa 1993 BTW)

Police attack and disperse dancing protesters (an amazing story in its own right, these people were dancing under concentrations of teargas similar to those that made the RT crew reporter above collapse):



The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom - William Blake

by talos (mihalis at gmail dot com) on Wed Jun 15th, 2011 at 07:18:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I see now that Mason has written another excellent article on Syntagma square yesterday... Again he seems to be actually paying attention to what is happening - he doesn't get some of the background cultural things naturally, but what he does get is much more than the vast majority of his colleagues (and that includes most Greek pundits as well)...

The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom - William Blake
by talos (mihalis at gmail dot com) on Wed Jun 15th, 2011 at 08:13:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
German public TV channel ARD, whose morning show I usually watch during breakfast, has a young reporter on the ground, who usually got airtime to say a line or two only. But today, also via satellite link, they interviewed a German-speaking Greek economist (sorry couldn't memorise his name) who got to say all that needs to be said: that the protest is against the austerity programme which causes recession, that the recession also results in reduced tax income and thus no solution to the solvency crisis, that the long-term solution would involve pay rises in export countries, that the short term solution would involve defaults and tax hikes for the rich.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Thu Jun 16th, 2011 at 01:35:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Mason's conclusion:

It will be interesting to see how this interacts with Greek middle-class public opinion. The centre-right opposition party New Democracy is now riding high in opinion polls - though with 37% would not win an election outright, as its Portuguese counterpart did: If there's a snap election I would expect the same outcome as in Portugal, and as in Spain - where the existence of a square's occupation movement belied a national-level electoral swing to the right.

When I put it to the protesters that this might happen their attitude was: We don't care. New Democracy will come in, and they will soon go out again. They saw little difference between the parties, given effective economic sovereignty lies in Brussels.



*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Thu Jun 16th, 2011 at 01:49:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
From Mason's first cited post:

And I will repeat the point about hostility to the media: it's not a problem for me and my colleagues to be hounded off demos as "representatives of big capital", "Zionists", "scum and police informers" etc. But to get this reaction from almost every demographic - from balaclava kids to pensioners - should be a warning sign to the policymaking elite. The "mainstream" - whether it's the media, politicians or business people - is beginning to seem illegitimate to large numbers of people.

As one old bloke put it to me, when I said: "Don't you want us to report what's happening to you?" - "No."

He was quite calm and rational as he waved his hand in my face: "It's too late for that."



As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Thu Jun 16th, 2011 at 01:01:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
From Eurointelligence: On the brink (again)
Dramatic events in Greece yesterday: As tens of thousands protested against the new austerity plans George Papandreou offered to step down in favour of a new unity government. But talks with the conservative opposition failed and George Papandreou announced instead a cabinet reshuffle and a vote of confidence in Parliament, Kathimerini reports. Papandreou had reportedly refused to accept the opposition's condition to renegotiate the aid deal.  After the talks failed, opposition leader Antonis Samaras blamed the government for the failure and asked for early elections saying on television: "It is clear that the only one who can deliver a solution now is the Greek people," Reuters reports.  Analysts say that if Papandreou wins the confidence vote today, there might be no early elections and the chances increase that there is a sufficient majority in parliament to adopt the austerity plan.

To secure the support of the majority George Papaconstantinou had offered on Wednesday to soften some of the austerity measures, including not hiking the tax on heating fuel and keeping the tax-free threshold on property at €200,000 rather than €100,000, according to Reuters.  

Papaconstantinou is likely victim in the cabinet reshuffle. BBC News quotes analysts saying the post is likely to be filled by Lucas Papademos, former vice president of the ECB.



Economics is politics by other means
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jun 16th, 2011 at 03:51:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]

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