Once again things are out of control in Greece. A general strike is underway, and schools, hospitals, and transit are affected. Firebombs and teargas have hit Athens as Greek citizens protest the latest round of austerity measures.
Please consider Greek Strike Sees Violence as Police Use Tear Gas by Parliament
Police fired tear gas near the Greek Parliament after protesters threw fire-bombs as thousands of people joined a strike opposing wage cuts and austerity that Prime Minister Antonis Samaras said are vital to keep the euro.
Demonstrators streamed into the central Syntagma Square in Athens, opposite the Parliament House, shouting slogans such as “struggle, clash, overturn: history gets written by those who disobey.” Police spokesman Takis Papapetropoulos estimated the crowd at 35,000 people.
Schools, hospitals, ferries and government services shut down in the first walkout since February. Shops will close from 3 p.m. today to let staff take part in demonstrations. Public transport is operating from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. to allow protesters to attend rallies in Athens city center. A three-hour walkout by air traffic controllers will disrupt flights around the country.
Athens, the capital, has been wracked with demonstrations by groups ranging from police officers to parents of three or more children in the past week as Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras remained locked in talks with officials from the European Union, the IMF and the European Central Bank.
Hooded youths throwing fire-bombs at police were met with tear gas today, forcing some of the marchers to scatter. Teams of riot police guarded the Finance Ministry and surrounding streets.
The IMF has indicated that any additional financing for Greece will have to come from Europe, where officials have told Samaras no discussion can be held on debt relief or on extending the time to implement measures until he honors pledges made for the country’s second rescue package.
Polls show continued dissatisfaction with economic policies. More than 57 percent said the country shouldn’t keep to pledges made in exchange for the bailout as the policies have failed, compared with 40 percent who said it should stick to its commitments, according to a Metron Analysis poll for Ependytis newspaper.
Sentiment Has Turned
Sentiment in Greece has turned, and likely turned for good. 57% of Greeks have had enough of austerity to the point they would rather default.
Turn back the hands of time a bit and think how this might have played out if Greece simply left the euro and defaulted three years ago as it should have. Tourism would likely have increased and if Greece had implemented true structural reforms rather than tax hikes, its economy would be stable or recovering now.
Instead, the country is in ruins, tourism is down, and in an on-again-off-again fashion, absolute chaos breaks out.
Another round of austerity and tax hikes can only make things worse at this point, and the people know it. This will pressure political parties to not go along with Samaras.
If another round of elections were held today, there is no way Samaras would win. Instead, the radical left, and radical right (both of which want to exit the euro), would be fighting over the pieces.
The nannycrats in Brussels and Chancellor Merkel are to blame for this sad state of affairs.
Finally, please note that the big fear of the nannycrats and Merkel is not that Greece leaves the euro per se, but rather Greece leaves the euro and the Greek economy starts to recover.
Well, here’s the deal and it is something I said years ago: the sooner Greece abandons the euro, tells the Troika to go to hell, and defaults, the better off it will be.
Mike “Mish” Shedlock
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