Greece and tragedy are almost synonymous, and the re-election of Alexis Tsipras looks uncomfortably like another chance to down a draught of political hemlock. He resigned last July having done what he came to power promising never to do — namely surrender Greece to the clutches of the lenders that have kept it afloat for much of the last decade. To be fair to Mr Tsipras, the mountain of fiscal problems faced by him is not of his making; he is merely the most recent custodian of it. His return to office is either an act of spectacular courage or of profound foolhardiness. Either way, brave or foolish, he is not going to fix Greece in the near future, especially with his majority much reduced, though workable.
Greeks are already suffering swingeing levels of austerity and the prospect of yet more of the same fills nobody with sweetness and light. Corruption remains rampant and taxation — as in Pakistan — a major stumbling block. The lenders retain their lien on national sovereignty, and democracy is something of a thin firewall between the Euro-bankers and Greek governance. It is difficult to avoid the conclusion that the fiscal consolidation and reform programme was designed to fail, and Greeks are going to be expected to see their pensions and child benefits cut further, with banks foreclosing on property deals that are no longer sustainable, there being no money to support a credit line. The oligarchs of Greece are unlikely to be effectively tackled by a weakened Mr Tsipras, and even if debt relief is quickly transfused, the economy is so crippled that it will remain on life support for years. To add another layer of tragedy, Greece is the first port of call for the thousands of refugees fleeing the conflicts of the Levant. The number of refugees flowing in far exceeds the capacity of the Greek state to cater to their needs even though they are ‘in transit’ rather than looking to settle. A chalice of hemlock sits on the prime ministerial office desk.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 28th, 2015.
Like Opinion & Editorial on Facebook, follow @ETOpEd on Twitter to receive all updates on all our daily pieces.
Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive.
For more information, please see our Comments FAQ