The Minister of Economics and Finance Evangelos Venizelos used a very appropriate metaphor to describe the ongoing Greek negotiation for the second bailout package. He described it as facing the Lernaean Hydra. The Hydra was an ancient serpent – like a chtonic water beast, with reptilian traits, that possessed many heads and for each head cut off it grew two more. It had a poisonous breath so virulent even her tracks were deadly.
Hercules was tasked to kill her and did. But he was a hero and it was after all only his second task.
Greece has been facing impending doom for close to three years and each day is worse than the previous one. The economy has virtual stopped moving. Negotiations drag on and each time there is an open window or an objection is raised by the coalition government, then new issues arise that seem more critical and impossible to sign off on.
Parliamentarians are on their own. They have no leadership, they have no allegiance to parties. They have no say in the negotiations but they take all the heat for the decisions. Now many of them are resigning, refusing to vote for further austerity measures and are just plain revolting against the country’s creditors.
There is no doubt in my mind that it is an unfortunate fact that Greece- at this most crucial juncture- lacks inspired or convincing leadership across party lines. Instead of just taking the hit, the party leaders are still trying to find ways to spin the crisis into a political opportunity.
Finally, after days and days of haggling, when everyone thought there was light at the end of the tunnel, the ECOFIN meeting in Brussels took a turn for the worse to everyone’s surprise. Suddenly, it seems as if the house of cards will come tumbling down.
LAOS refuses to vote for the measures but will not leave the coalition. Parliamentarians will not vote for the austerity package, the Socialist party of PASOK is now polling at 8%, which indicates that it is now defunct and New Democracy’s head is drawing red lines in the sand and kicking off the election season though general elections have not even been decided.
European leaders and ministers are sometimes threatening and sometimes supporting the Greek peoples’ plight.
Frankly there is too much being said and too little being done. The drama, the words, the passions are obscuring the real issues making it impossible for anyone to make a sane and rational decision.
The Greeks wonder if it’s just better to throw the towel and declare bankruptcy because nobody seems to really care about their fate. They tell them that creditors want their money, their assets, and don’t care about growth and the return to prosperity. So they continue to flail in the waves of the unknown wondering when the torture will be over.
There is nothing more destructive than sticking to the status quo when situations change. It is important to adapt quickly and with determination. Even Hercules had help in dealing with the Hydra. Iolaus held a torch as each head of the Hydra was cut off so new ones would not grow back.
Determination, realistic adaptation and a call for help are the most important ingredients needed today to navigate through this crisis.
The Greek government is no Hercules but they can certainly learn from his example.