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Tue Feb 19th, 2013 at 01:45:23 AM EST
|Via the Guardian: "Athenians reach out for a bag of oranges during a free distribution of fruit and vegetables by farmers outside the Agriculture Ministry. The farmers are staging the event to protest against high production costs, including rising fuel prices"|
It used to be the case that I would need some time and effort to select incidents that would be telling enough and substantially reported in the media enough to give readers a taste of the societal collapse and the democratic decay that is occurring in Greece under the yoke of the troika and its willing executioners among the political elites. These days its simple enough: just check the past few days' headlines.
On the societal collapse side Alex Politaki in the Guardian, describes the situation on the ground: Greece is facing a humanitarian crisis
, deep and unprecedented during peacetime in the West:
"...There are three more indicators that point to a humanitarian crisis. First, the number of homeless people has risen to unprecedented levels for a European country: unofficial estimates put them at 40,000. Second, the proportion of Greek beneficiaries of NGO medical services in some urban centres was recorded at 60% of the total in 2012. This would have been unthinkable even three years ago, since such services were typically provided to immigrants, not Greeks.
Third, there has been explosive growth in soup kitchens and general food distribution. The levels are not officially recorded, but the Church of Greece distributes approximately 250,000 daily rations, while there are unknown numbers of rations distributed by municipal authorities and NGOs. By recent government order, municipal rations will be expanded further because of rising incidence of children fainting at school due to low calorie intake. There will also be light meals provided to young students...
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Thu Feb 14th, 2013 at 03:24:36 AM EST
It's a recent discovery and one that allows me a rather lazy recap of some of the latest developments in Greece: EUobserver's Austerityland blog by Leigh Phillips has probably provided the best English language summaries of recent events in the country and the slide to a defiantly non-democratic version of a permanent emergency state.
In Puppies and Ice Cream
Phillips explains the four steps that the Greek (let's face it, extreme-) right wing government employs to contain popular dissent and fight the opposition:
- Distract attention from the cuts, by stoking up racism
- Use arcane laws to break strikes (and indeed the government has indicated in the past few days that it wants to go down the road of making legal strikes anything from very difficult to impossible)
- Accuse your opponents of terrorism (featuring Zizek among others)
- Crack down on dissidents: squats, social centers and generally "settling accounts with the post-1974 era" as the Public Order Minister announced (that is the period after the fall of the junta)
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Mon Jan 21st, 2013 at 05:40:19 PM EST
Athens has been covered on and off these past couple of months by a thick smog produced by smoke from fireplaces and wood stoves. This is not strictly of course an Athenian phenomenon: all over Greece (and especially Northern Greece) towns and cities are enveloped this winter by an acrid smelling smog consisting of burning wood fumes and ashes, mingled with all sorts of toxic substances. As with most of the societal plagues brought on Greece these past few years, this too is a direct result of troikan austerity gone wild and a Greek government unable to protect its citizens.
The troika demanded and the Greek government acquiesced to, a tax increase on heating oil, the stuff that powers most central heating in Greek buildings, bringing its price at the same level as transportation gas. Already the price of a litre of gas at the pump in Greece was the highest in the EU, thanks to previous rounds of taxes on gas mandated by the troika. Gas prices went up by over 50% in Greece since 2009, mostly due to excise taxes. This, combined with a decline in real average income in the country of around 40-50%, led to a decrease in tax receipts from gas taxes of the order of 1.5 billion Euros.
Sat Dec 1st, 2012 at 05:33:27 AM EST
Reuters: ECB right not to disclose Greece-related documents: court
Bloomberg News asked the ECB in August 2010 to disclose two documents entitled "The impact on government deficit and debt from off-market swaps. The Greek case" and "The Titlos transaction and possible existence of similar transactions impacting on the euro area government debt or deficit levels".
The ECB refused access to the documents. Bloomberg News challenged that decision in the General Court.
"In today's judgment, the General Court dismisses that action," the court said in a statement.
The judges agreed with the ECB that it could not disclose the first document because the information it contained was outdated, posing a substantial risk of severely misleading the public in general and financial markets in particular.
"In a very vulnerable market environment, that disclosure would affect the proper functioning of the financial markets. Thus, disclosure of the information contained in that document would undermine public confidence as regards the effective conduct of economic policy in the EU and Greece," the statement said.
The court also found that the content of the second document was closely connected with the first, and that the ECB had not made a mistake in assessing that its disclosure too "would undermine the economic policy of the EU and Greece"
This obviously stinks to high heaven...
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Fri Oct 12th, 2012 at 04:11:52 AM EST
This is from the Guardian. It is a story that establishes both the degree to which the Athens riot police units act as Nazi allies and the degree to which the media system in Greece is conspiring to keep mum about it:
The Guardian: Greek anti-fascist protesters 'tortured by police' after Golden Dawn clash
Fifteen anti-fascist protesters arrested in Athens during a clash with supporters of the neo-Nazi party Golden Dawn have said they were tortured in the Attica General Police Directorate (GADA) - the Athens equivalent of Scotland Yard - and subjected to what their lawyer describes as an Abu Ghraib-style humiliation.
Members of a second group of 25 who were arrested after demonstrating in support of their fellow anti-fascists the next day said they were beaten and made to strip naked and bend over in front of officers and other protesters inside the same police station.
(This is the detainees' version of events in Greek, Spanish and English)
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Mon Oct 1st, 2012 at 08:35:35 AM EST
Instead of an analysis of what kind of "austerity measures" and in whose favor, the troika and its vassals in the Greek government have been preparing, I'll just show you a table of taxes before and after the new tax system, a part of the latest austerity package, is implemented, by income category. This is income tax only, it does not include social security taxes... The really fun part is at the bottom of the table [from Capital.gr]
|A fair tax system|
Promoted by DoDo
Mon Sep 10th, 2012 at 07:33:43 AM EST
This has to be read to be believed "Die Welt: Happy Days Ahead? Euro Zone Austerity Measures Starting To Work
" [Original in German
If the numbers are right, the European crisis countries are apparently healing faster than the markets have realized -- or want to realize.
An astonishingly positive total picture emerges from the various statistics. The economies of the euro zone's periphery nations are more competitive than they were just a few months ago; their industries are selling more abroad, and trade deficits are narrowing.
"Blood, sweat and tears -- everything people in these economies have been through is paying off," says Bert Colijn, a jobs market expert with Conference Board, a private economic research institute." The competitivity of the crisis countries is improving, and these first signs of improvement are encouraging. The periphery countries are moving in the right direction."
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Sun Jun 17th, 2012 at 07:18:19 AM EST
Today, as apparently half the world knows already, parliamentary elections are being held in Greece. This is the second such elections in a period of 40 days, after the results of the elections held on the 6th of May proved impossible to produce a working government alliance.
Again as most of the world knows by now, the two main rivals in these elections are the conservative New Democracy party and SYRIZA, the party of the Greek radical left which was the surprise winner of the May 6th vote that saw it propelled from 4,5% to 16,5% and second place ahead of the discredited socialists of PASOK. SYRIZA is a party that promises to renounce austerity and as such causes some form of disquiet across the ruling elites world-wide.
So it seems that the world's media have descended en masse in Athens and around Greece (the BBC's excellent Paul Mason has been climbing mountains and talking to cattle-ranchers) to an impressive extent. When Tsipras voted a few hours ago in a down-town polling center the whole area was innundated by international reporters and their crews
The Guardian has live coverage of events and is reliable. Athens News will be covering here election results as they become known.
Official results in English can be found at the Greek Ministry of Interior...
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Thu Jun 14th, 2012 at 05:51:02 AM EST
Greek Shipowner Victor Restis, on SYRIZA's plan to impose some sort of minimal tax on ship-owners:
"You cannot squeeze and tackle a person that is in international shipping trade and finance and say, `I will tax you,'" said Restis, who controls a fleet of more than 200 vessels. "The answer is `sure, tax me. Find me.'"
Restis is not just a shipowner though, he is also a large shareholder in Greek media enterprises. The sort that spend most of their newscasts blaming working people for the disaster that has befallen them and complaining about fiscal imprudence and "generous" public sector salaries.
Promoted by Colman
Thu Jun 7th, 2012 at 04:28:19 AM EST
"Greece must be clear that it agreed to this rehabilitation program, there is no alternative, if it wants to remain a member of the Euro-zone,"
- ECB executive board member Jörg Asmussen
implies a return to health, or to normalcy, of course, and two years after the therapy started, the patient is sicker than ever, undeveloping
and suffering societal collapse.
That these fiscal doctors are quacks therefore is indisputable. That they have no ability to learn from their mistakes or, perhaps, that indeed this political butchery is not incidental but purposeful, is evidenced by their persistence on the social and economic disaster being visited by the Frankfurt Consensus (worthy heir to the devastating Washington Consensus
) not only on Greece but on country after peripheral country in the EU, a policy cancer that is metastasizing to the EU core - again, perhaps as intended...
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Wed May 9th, 2012 at 04:16:12 AM EST
As Antonis Samaras leader of New Democracy, the Greek conservative party, has failed to garner support for forming a new government, Alexis Tsipras the leader of the radical left party SYRIZA, will try tomorrow [Wednesday 9, afew] to gather enough support for forming a government that will renegotiate the current treaties and repudiate the destructive austerity imposed on the country, by the ECB / IMF / EU Commission troika. Interestingly both ND and PASOK seem to hint that they might support a government of the left or abstain from voting on the formation of such a government, which leads me to believe that they might be betting on SYRIZA capitulating on the EU blackmail that will surely follow such a government or, even better, are scared stiff of the possible results of a second round in the polls.
As Tsipras will be in a (theoretical) position to form a government today, I attach below a translation of the letter he sent to the governments of eurozone countries, the EU Comission and assorted eurocrats, on February 21st this year, ten days after a massive protest against the signing of the memorandum was drowned in tear-gas and police brutality, and a few days after the illegitimate government of Loukas Papademos signed the PSI deal and the loan treaty that among many other things, further reduced all wages by 22%...
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Sun May 6th, 2012 at 07:38:20 AM EST
So the elections are underway in Greece, and no one has a clue of the result...
Polls have been very ineffective in gauging public sentiment in these elections and pollsters are much less certain of their numbers than they were in previous elections. This is because a tectonic shift in attitudes has occurred in the Greek electorate, a new social and economic era, driven by the IMF/ECB disaster that has reorganized society creating new alliences, hopes and fears. Plus a huge number of citizens refuse to cooperate with the pollsters anyway.
So we're voting today in Greece without having even a broad idea of the result. There are a few things that are expected, but not certain:
- No party will be able to govern by itself
- The sum of the percentages of the two mainstream parties that have monopolized government will be at a historical low. The conservatives will be less affected than the "socialists", but are expected to suffer serious losses from their 2009 33% result (a historical low at the time as well). The socialists will be celebrating if they only lose half of their 2009 electoral percentage of 44%.
- Given the outrageous 50 seat bonus (in a 300 seat parliament) the two parties (in the worst case scenario with the help of minor parties of the neolib right mostly) are expected to form a government, even a weak government
- The left is expected to reach a historical record. Of the parties of the left SYRIZA, is expected to have the most impressive result
- The "old parties" keep their strength among the elderly.
- A good result for the left would be an inability by pro-austerity forces to form a stable government
- Despite earlier assumptions, participation in these elections will probably be higher, not lower than that in the previous election
Sun May 6th, 2012 at 06:23:35 AM EST
Tomorrow, Sunday May 6th, is not only election day in France (and Serbia and Armenia), but in Greece too. If the French elections monopolize most of the international coverage it is likely that the electoral outcome in Greece could have a much more drastic global effect, despite the country's small size and relative weakness. Unlike France the result of the Greek electoral process could result immediately in triggering actions from the main players of the European crisis, that could lead to its resolution, one way or another, including the dismantling of the Eurozone.
Wed May 2nd, 2012 at 05:49:03 AM EST
I'll be putting up a diary on the upcoming Greek elections, both the most promising and the most ominous in recent history as well as the most unpredictable, shortly... The elections are scheduled for next Sunday, so they will coincide with the second round of the French presidential elections, and probably will be overshadowed by them... At least initially...
This here is an introductory diary that would like to open a discussion about the possibilities and prospects of an antiausteritarian policy starting from a single, small EU country. It's more of a call for a discussion really as it is not just about Greece, but in general about the possibilities and routes of escape from the straitjacket of ECB brand austerity... Something most of us here aim and wish for...
See this: Greek anti-bailout leftist wins over austerity-weary voters:
Alexis Tsipras says Greece's political elite are bluffing when they say harsh austerity cuts are required to keep the country in the euro zone. And he wants Greek voters to call them on it.
With Greece due to vote on May 6, the young leader of the Left Coalition party is urging Greeks to vote out austerity - and the two pro-bailout parties imposing it - arguing Europe cannot afford to kick Greece out of the monetary union.
"It's a pseudo-dilemma, a fabricated myth, that our future in the euro is at risk. It is blackmail by pro-bailout parties, a tool to pressure people to accept measures that bring misery," he told Reuters in this port city in central Greece.
"If any country left the euro under the pressure of markets, then as a herd they would seek the next one to speculate on. The cost for the zone, for Germany, would be huge," he said.
The rhetoric may find little sympathy among Greece's international lenders, but it is winning him voters at home. The 38-year-old leftist's party is one of four vying for third place in national elections on May 6.
frontpaged - Nomad
Sat Mar 17th, 2012 at 09:17:06 PM EST
EU Commission President Barroso said:
"Greece's future passes through restoring both financial stability and growth potential. The support provided by the Commission's Task Force is a key instrument to support growth and jobs in Greece. The solidarity shown by many Member States, the Commission, and other international institutions is a very encouraging signal for this country. Let's build a future for Greece together".
Fri Mar 16th, 2012 at 11:06:34 AM EST
So as Greek society collapses economically, in an unprecedented depression. The scene is supposedly set (barring an order to the contrary by our troikan overlords) for elections... If they are announced, as promised, they will occur either on 29/4 or 6/5 and seem to be a turning event in the country's history:
Thu Feb 16th, 2012 at 09:10:11 PM EST
Reporting on the trials and tribulations of Greek society and its economy under the yoke of the IMF/ECB over the past two disastrous years, I have noted the disconnect of the persons in charge of "fixing" the Greek economy with its reality. This whole train-wreck is turning into a disgusting farce, a farce with real human casualties, but a farce nonetheless. "Greece" is being blamed for failing to meet the austerity program goals and "lying" to the EU officials. The program itself cannot be at fault (although it is failing everywhere
) so it must
be its lax implementation. This is something that apparently is sold as a fact to northern European audiences, along with the falsity that this new package is mainly about "reform" and not about abolishing collective bargaining in Greece, forcefully decreasing private
sector salaries to well under official poverty levels and reducing labor law to something a Burmese dictator would approve of - along with the fire-sale of important infrastructure such as the Athens and Thessaloniki water companies and valuable assets such as the state lottery and football pools.
Mon Feb 13th, 2012 at 01:32:07 AM EST
"Martial law has to be imposed for these measures to be implemented"
This loan shark says, make them pay, beat them until they pay
everything, but don't beat them so hard that they can't keep paying.
That loan shark says, if you don't make an example of this one, the
others won't respect you. Beat them to death. And it is between these
two poles that the bankers, ratings agencies, and EU leaders oscillate
How is Greece taking the new loan deal
that accompanies the PSI
? Most compare it to a dictatorship
, a foreign occupation, the kind of terms a victor imposes on a defeated country. No wonder: Two years of the most grinding austerity, has caused a destruction of the Greek economy that has no precedent, in peacetime, as official nominal wages dropped 15%, unemployment passed the 20%
mark and, according to polling company VPRC, the bottom 90% of Greek households, suffered in 2011 alone loss of income on average
~45% of their incomes.
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Mon Jan 9th, 2012 at 08:12:52 PM EST
About a month ago, on the 16th of December, IMF mission chief for Greece, Poul Thomsen, told reporters
that the country's economy
"...is continuing to trend downwards, reflecting that the hoped for improvement in market sentiment and in the investment climate is not materializing,"
Having finally recognized, after two years of producing an unmitigated societal and economic disaster
, the failure of its plans, its estimates and its projections, one would expect the IMF to backtrack from its pro-depression policies, and start proposing something less catastrophic for Greece and the rest of the EU periphery (and eventually the whole of the EU and the rest of the world)... Well, no, one wouldn't really, if they knew the history of the IMF and the recent history of the EU debt debacle, but that would
be the rational thing to do. Actually the IMF did the exact opposite: after a treatment that has driven the patient close to death, it is asking to increase the dosage of the same deleterious medicine
in line with the Merkozy school of Hooverian economics:
"The numbers show that Greece's budget deficit continued to rise in November, while the recession, spurred on by suffocating austerity measures, has cancelled out a large part of the extra income that the government hoped to gain from emergency taxes.
Indeed, provisional figures from the Ministry of Finance show that the state budget's "black hole" broadened by 5.1% in the first 11 months of this year, reaching 20.52 billion euros, compared to a total of 19.5 billion a year ago.
In order drastically to reduce public spending, therefore, the so-called "troika" has asked the Athens government to carry out further severe austerity measures, including the redundancy of a further 150,000 public sector workers by 2015, in addition to the 30,000 who will be released by the end of this month. The demands of the "troika"... were announced by the Minister for Administrative Reform, Dimitris Reppas, following a meeting with representatives of the international creditors: Matthias Mors, Mark Flanagan and Bob Traa. Reppas explained to the officials that the redundancy of surplus state employees has not had the desired effect because the measure was applied hurriedly and without correct assessment..."
Mon Nov 14th, 2011 at 06:13:14 AM EST
I was asked by the good folks over at the New Left Project for a write-up on the situation in Greece, after the "national unity" government quieted things down. You can read the article, titled "'National Unity' in Greece" here.
In brief I hold that a. This is far from settled, b. new struggles and renewed dissatisfaction are imminent and unavoidable (barring some sort of massive change of EU course, naturally) and c. that the whole situation has made a hard-left government a not totally fanciful idea:
It has become obvious over the past couple of years of the harshest austerity imposed in Europe since the Second World War that the true opposition to IMF/ECB policies comes from the streets and popular protest. As the fabric of society crumbles in Greece it seems improbable that a population in such distress can be pacified by a change of government guard. The coming months until the elections (supposedly due in February, though the date isn't set yet) will be crucial. Should the left manage to unite in an anti-austerity front as effectively as the elites have united behind the new Greek PM, Greece, so the polls seem to indicate, could be the first country in Europe to elect a hard left government. But there is a long way to go and the Communist Party, the largest party of the left, insists that it isn't interested in such a front. It remains to be seen whether it will keep to this line in the face of intensifying austerity.
A set of new polls came out hours after this was posted at NLP. This is the result from Public Issue, a polling company that seems to be the most constantly trustworthy among those that have published a poll this week (results normalized to 100%, interestingly intent of abstention has fallen precipitously this month to "only" 27%):
front-paged by afew
by DoDo - May 23
by Nomad - May 10
by JakeS - May 15
by gmoke - May 17
by DoDo - May 12
by Migeru - May 6