Source: In These Times
To break from the program of brutal austerity that has been imposed on Greece, its leaders have no choice but to take radical action.
When Syriza won Greece’s parliamentary elections in January of 2015, much ado was made in the international press about the rise of a new radical Left in Greece—a development that had punctured Greece’s longstanding two-party stalemate and opened up the possibility of rolling back the brutal austerity measures imposed upon it by “the troika,” the European Commission, the International Monetary Fund and the European Central Bank. The upstart Leftists, born of anti-austerity social movements, won by running on a platform that highlighted two central positions. First, they would end the austerity that was driving Greece deeper into a humanitarian crisis. Second, they would keep the country in the European Union.
Almost five months later, Syriza hasn’t made a radical break from the program of debt repayments and austerity. Fears of being catapulted out of the currency union have paralyzed attempts at equitable negotiations. Instead, the Greek government remains in an exhausting carousel of brief extensions and frequent meetings with creditors, as they virtually beg for more loans while simultaneously postponing any opportunity to address Greece’s pressing social issues.
Meanwhile, the realities on the streets of Greece remain grim. Unemployment hovers at about 25 percent; cuts to healthcare have exacerbated public health concerns; and thousands of Afghan, Syrian and Eritrean refugees continue to pour in, seeking safe shores along the Mediterranean. And there are no signs of improvement on the horizon. Just this week, the OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) forecasted worsening unemployment and a growing debt-to-GDP ratio in Greece in the coming months.