High Anxiety Over Cameron's Austerity Call
"Austerity or you're out" is the uncompromising message from David Cameron and the other leaders of the advanced economies to the people of Greece.
The opinion polls tell us the majority of Greeks want to remain in the eurozone but the economic data also tells us what the price of austerity has been.
Since November 2009 when the PASOK party was elected to government and began efforts to reform the economy get the nationals finances under control, unemployment has doubled and real take home for the average Greek has fallen by around 20%.
Austerity has bought Greece 240bn euros of emergency loans from the EU and the IMF but, still now, the Greek government is deep in debt, spending more than it has coming in and the economy is entering a fifth year of recession.
"An end to austerity and we stay in" is a very different message but so much more seductive. That's the election promise to the people of Greece from Alexis Tsipras, the leader of the Syriza party.
Syriza advertises an end to the pain and continued membership of the eurozone. The party pledges tax rises but only for the very wealthy and companies which turn a profit, for everyone else there's a VAT cut.
Syriza also says it will cancel a large part of Greece's national debt, nationalise the banking system, strengthen the power of the unions and reverse recent cuts to the minimum wage and unemployment benefit.
It's a manifesto which a until a few months ago appeared laughable but, if the opinion polls are right, if there was an election tomorrow around 25% of Greeks would vote for the party (up from 18% at the last election, two weeks ago). Some polls score them as Greece's most popular party
There is still the best part of four weeks to go and the other big parties are already responding. In the last few days senior figures within the PASOK and New Democracy parties have described Syriza as "clueless" and "dangerous".
On Sunday the man who negotiated Greece's participation in the bailout programmes, the former Finance Minister, George Papaconstantinou, told Sky News that if Syriza were to form a government and "tear-up" the austerity agreement it would "open the door to hell".
Syriza has won people's attention and the right to be taken seriously but it's too early to say if the party and its policies will stand-up to the scrutiny.
The main, established parties talk of the need for "fiscal consolidation" and "primary surpluses" but Syriza's message is more comprehensible and more hopeful.
Their critics accuse the party of misleading voters but, in times of hardship, there are people who are willing to believe.
No one knows whether or not Greece will leave the euro or what will happen if it does - thus the high anxiety - but it is perfectly possible that on June 17 the Greek people will elect a government determined to reject every reform the EU and the IMF has insisted on.
If it does it's likely Greece will leave the euro and from then on, well we're into the unknown.
what do you think?
Don't bully the Greeks. Don't lecture them. Simply let their currency float free fromthe Euro.
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Some one should write a letter to the people of Greece telling them what it is like to live under Cameron's austerity plans, where he doesnt have a clue what is like for us at the bottom being squeezed and squeezed for more money and doesnt really care as long as the rich are not made to suffer. I am sure the Greeks will then all leap forward to volunteer to accept austerity plans for their country too
You are clearly a Labour party supporter with a very short memory sir.
Haven't you noticed Jeffrey? we have only ONE party, the Con/Lab/Lib party the unholy trinity that represent only the rich and themselves, not a jot of a difference between any of the wretches.
We need a new party of the left based on the trade unions.
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Cameron is fast becoming a national embarrassment. Since Sarkozy got the boot, Cameron has gone into overdrive in his quest to be seen as a "World Leader". His licking-up to Merkel and Obama is nauseating and portrays the UK as something akin to teacher's pet, fawningly eager to please while bullying others from behind her skirts.
The Greeks have milked the system for years living off the money of France, Germany and Britain. Time to pay up or get out. If they don't like it, tough.
I am a Labour supporter with a long memory of Thatcher the Snatcher, the destroyer of the industries in the north east, the woman who looked after the richest in society, the glory seeker who also wanted to rule the EEC. Cameloon is her 'surrogate son' and it is deja-vu with him in charge. We should have more men like Dennis Skinner in the goverment instead of posh boys who when in trouble sack their servants. Rant over!
I am a Consevative supporter. I have a long memory of the pre Thatcher era, strikes, power cuts, rubbish rotting in the streets, no sugar, the dead remaining un buried. the unions destroying the car and ship building industries etc, etc. Thatcher put a stop to all that and bought about the reality of "if your good enough you will prosper". Thank god for her, the greatest British female ver to live.
Car, ship, mining industries where are they now?
Thumbs up if you pledge to holiday in Greece if they switch back to the Drachma
Is that all you've got to worry about? Cheap holidays in other people's misery? But then you're into Hayek, aren't you?
It about being a good European. If they do loose the Euro. They will need tourism and exports to build the economy again.
The Keynesian economic model is failing. Every article I read seems to show that Friedrich Hayek was right. If you don't know who HAYEK is, then please research his Economic theories.
I'll get right on that!
Don't bother, Brian. Hayek was one of the inspirations of Milton Friedman, the arch-monetarists of the 'Chicago School', where Thatcherism came from where the rich get even richer and devil take the hindmost. Pretty much the way of thinking that got us in this parlous state in the first place. A historical dead-end.
James Maynard Keynes was the philosopher who inspired what we now call 'quantitaive easing' where capitalism underwrites the economy - a halfway house between capitalism and socialism, also a failure. Genuine socialism is the answer, but its critics will always quote Stalinism or Maoism as being 'proof' that socialism also failed. This are obscene distortions of socialism. Both Stalin and Mao were, of course, murderous dictators.
Hayek was never a fan of Monetarism. He has said so himself. The problem with Socialism and with Keynesian Economics, is that for it to work best the Government has to have a lot of control. I am all for helping people economically that need it. But there are better ways of doing it. Thinking you can understand the economy and all its complexities was described by Hayek as "the pretense of knowledge" His economic frameworks are based on the fact that no institution can tell what is best for the economy, so leave to individuals on where best to spend their money. The other issue is. At what point do you say someone needs help? The socialist system is one big moral hazard.