Greece: Can The Patient Please Take Their Medicine

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The eurozone tragedy called Greece continues to grip the markets and those desperate to keep the EU family together. Greece is heading back to the polls after talks attempting to form a government after recently held elections, have failed. Greece rode a wave of prosperity after the introduction of the euro in 2002 only to come crashing down into an economic wasteland crippled by austerity as the previously enjoyed boom was a bubble full of b*llocks fuelled by borrowed money. Now the country is technically bankrupt. Twenty percent of the workforce is unemployed rising to fifty percent among young people. Those considered lucky enough to have work suffer pay freezes or considerable pay cuts and many have been thrown below the poverty line. The Greek electorate has made it clear it is fed up with the current situation as previously considered marginalised parties opposing austerity measures received a considerable amount of votes. As no workable parliamentary majority could be agreed upon the country is heading back to the polls to vote, as many view it, on whether Greece wants to stay in or get out of the euro club.

Greece has been kept afloat and into the eurozone by substantial amounts of EU and IMF dosh with strict conditions attached. A vast majority of the Greek people has indicated that it wants to remain part of the eurozone. Yet, a large amount of the very same people has made it clear that it rejects the strict bailout conditions that are to ensure just that. The Greeks are not the only Europeans objecting against current austerity measures. Across the Continent people have expressed their dissatisfaction with the discomfort and pain austerity measures have caused and the economic growth it has failed to generate. Some, in and outside of Greece, have spoken of a more growth-orientated agenda. The issue is, to stimulate growth one needs money, which most EU countries don’t have. In Greece the far left, anti-austerity coalition of parties Syriza has argued in favour of such growth-stimulating measures. However, the one who would be paying, Frau Merkel’s Germany is not that keen.

Greece is considered to be in such dire straits due to serious mismanaged by the ruling classes and a culture of clientelism and corporatism hasn’t helped. Greece needs more than bail out money alone, whether this is accompanied by austerity measures or not. Both Greece and the EU should ask themselves whether the country’s economic structure is in the right condition to successfully operate within the eurozone framework and if it’s not, is Greece willing to make the sacrifices to make its system fit for purpose. Greece’s anti-austerity parties are expected to do even better in new elections to be held next month. These parties should seriously consider whether they prefer to exercise petty party politics with strong rhetoric as music to many people’s ears or if they truly want to bring their ailing country back to economic health. The latter involving painful and highly unpopular measures. The anti-austerity parties are sticking to their anti-austerity guns, betting on the idea that Europe/ Germany is going to give them the money anyway as they are too keen on holding on to the European dream and too scared of what will happen if Greece would indeed be leaving the family. The Greek anti-austerity movement tends to forget, however, that the rest of the family is getting rather fed up with bailing out a member who refuses to grow up and keep their house in order.

Whether Greece stays in or gets out, it will be painful either way. Which route the country wants to take is entirely up to its people. However, the Greek people have to understand they need to face the consequences of whichever route they choose to take.

top image: article.businessinsider.com

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