World View: Greece’s Alexis Tsipras Says Greece Must Implement Harsh Reforms

The Associated Press
The Associated Press

This morning’s key headlines from

  • Greece’s Alexis Tsipras says that Greece must implement harsh reforms
  • Greece’s neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party shows remarkable resilience

Greece’s Alexis Tsipras says that Greece must implement harsh reforms

Alexis Tsipras on Saturday
Alexis Tsipras on Saturday

Greece’s far-left prime minister Alexis Tsipras continued with his mind-bending U-turn on Saturday by saying in a speech to the parliament that Greece must implement the harsh austerity measures demanded by the Europeans for a new bailout, and must implement them as quickly as possible. He said:

Implementing the bailout is not going to be easy. But we are obliged to make these decisions although we don’t like them. It’s necessary, in order to exit this system of surveillance and immediately start the discussion on the debt issue.

Our main target is to exit this system of supervision, and regain market access. But a necessary condition for that is to return to growth.

Tsipras was elected early this year by promising that there would be no more austerity measures. After being elected, he repeatedly lied and promised reforms with no intention of implementing. Infuriated lending institutions gave him an ultimatum. He called for a referendum in July, in which the voters told him to have no more austerity measures. The lending institutions renewed the ultimatum, and because of all the lying, demanded to put Greece’s budget process under outside supervision.

Tsipras then turned around and agreed to implement the harsh austerity measures demanded by Greece’s lenders, because European officials were “holding a knife at my neck.” The Europeans agreed to a new 86 billion euro bailout loan in return for the austerity measures, which address various economic issues, including Greece’s bloated public sector, curbing tax evasion and corruption, privatizing public businesses, and adjusting generous pension and minimum wage policies.

After this breathtaking U-turn, Tsipras called for new elections, which his far-left Syriza party won last month. As I wrote last month after the September 20 elections, it makes you wonder whether voters ever have any idea what they’re doing.

Well, things have been fairly peaceful since July, mainly thanks to a bridge loan that the Europeans provided, to allow the banks to reopen and to prevent bankruptcy.

But now the bridge loan has run out, and Tsipras has to resume negotiations, and enact a set of reforms by November 15, to receive the next tranche in the 86 billion euro loan.

As you can tell from Tsipras’s remarks quoted above, a major objective is to “regain market access.” When he means by that is that he would like to do as little as possible, but whatever is necessary, to be able to return to the capital markets and start borrowing again, so that his government can start unlimited spending again.

Tsipras promised to complete the first review of the bailout plan as soon as possible, and open the negotiations with the lenders on debt relief. It’s been a while since we’ve had weekly Greek financial crises, but those days should be returning soon. Kathimerini (Athens) and Reuters

Greece’s neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party shows remarkable resilience

A new analysis shows that the increasing popularity of Greece’s Golden Dawn political party is related to the flood of migrants passing through Greece.

Besides the financial crisis, Greece is in the midst of one more major crisis. Greece is a transit country through which hundreds of thousands of migrants pass through in order to reach Germany and other northern European countries. Typically, human smugglers in Turkey transport the migrants, usually from Syria or Iraq, to a Greek island in the Aegean sea. From there, a Greek ferry transports them to the mainland. They travel through Greece to Macedonia, and then go north.

With Greece on the front lines of the migrant crisis, it is perhaps not surprising, that a notable outcome of Greece’s September 20 elections was that the far-right Golden Dawn party managed to score some gains despite officially being charged as a criminal organization. (The term “far right” has different meanings in Europe and America.)

Many Greeks voted for Golden Dawn, even though Golden Dawn party members have openly assaulted immigrants and other people that they don’t like, and called for deportation of even Greek citizens who are not pure ethnic Greeks. The Greek public only turned against Golden Dawn on September 18, 2013, after self-identified Golden Dawn members murdered a white Greek civilian, Pavlos Fyssas, or Killah P, who rapped against the kind of racism that Golden Dawn practices. That killing shocked the Greek public, and led the government to arrest the party’s leader, Nikolaos Michaloliakos, and formally charge him with belonging to a criminal organization. Dozens more members were arrested as well, including four MPs (holding seats in Greece’s parliament). The charges include homicide, attempted homicide, money laundering, blackmail, grievous bodily harm, and other serious crimes.

Since the September 20 elections, a new analysis has shown the following:

  • Support for Golden Dawn has been fairly constant during the past three elections, until September 20.
  • A surge in electoral support for Golden Dawn appears to be an outcome of the increase refugee flows through those islands.
  • Most remarkably, on the average, the increase in support for Golden Dawn in a municipality is directly correlated to the distance of that municipality from the coast of Turkey.

These patterns were not present in the past, but only became apparent with the September 20 elections, after the long summer surge of migrants. Kathimerini

KEYS: Generational Dynamics, Greece, Alexis Tsipras, Golden Dawn, Nikolaos Michaloliakos, Pavlos Fyssas, Killah P
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