As Greece and Europe await the German vote on the second bailout package, Greeks are looking for ways to deal with their newfound state of affairs. I have been receiving various articles about how some people are relieved to be going back to a simpler less showy and crass way of life. They are idealizing the time of their grandparents. Others, want to live a life of good solid values and work but are not seeking a return to the past, where grandmothers wore black dresses and rode donkeys and toiled in the fields.
Some people are finding new ways to become creative and productive, forming food coops and working on their art. One friend wants to organize cultural tours of Greece. Volunteers are stopping by Museums offering to donate their time to help keep these institutions open and functioning.
Articles in the New York Times have lately shone a more flattering light on Greece and the Greek people who seek ways to overcome the crisis while also trying to explain what to outsiders may seem like an irrational way of behaving and thinking.
At present, Germany’s ruling coalition is facing staunch opposition to the bailout and if it does not pass by the Bundestag today this will not only mean a complete change of fortunes for the Greeks but will shake up the entire European edifice as well. It will also but Germany directly in the line of fire. If their aggressive leadership is not accepted by their own political establishment, then they have just managed to open Pandora’s box and will face not only criticism but severe polemics across the EU.
In Greece, people are desperate to stay in the Euro but they are also desperate to stop feeling so vulnerable and uncertain. They are not sure of what the best path is for them individually and for the country collectively. This is why parties that oppose the bailout are growing on both sides of the aisle. The left has certainly gotten stronger but the center right and center left are losing people and support as well. New parties are forming and nobody can be sure of their appeal.
In this climate, the formerly largest political parties are pushing for elections which will inevitably take place. What is disconcerting, however, is the irrational belief that the outcome of these elections may give one party enough votes to govern alone. And so, New Democracy is advocating that they will certainly not collaborate with PASOK after an election.
It is a tactic which stems from trying to show that you are different from your opponents but it is irresponsible to not let the public know what would happen if you did not have a one party majority. The people of Greece and the Europeans as well need to know what tomorrow may bring.
This is precisely why I don’t think elections are the answer and the way political parties are positioning themselves just proves that they continue to believe that in some way they can carry on with business as usual.
The Europeans are already saying that if the new government rejects the bailout, they will leave Greece to its fate. They speak the truth. If the Greek people want to follow a different path they certainly can. However, you can only use scare tactics internally and externally for so long. This method is quickly losing any leverage amongst the public. Everyone is suffering from bailout fatigue. Both the Greeks and their European allies.
The situation continues to be fluid but watching a nation go through this kind of pain and suffering makes me wonder if the economic wars of the 21st century caused by debt and a crisis of the markets may not prove to be so highly damaging that they begin to resemble conventional warfare in terms of the victims and the ruin of nation states.
I have believed from the outset and continue to do so that what happens to Greece will have a spill over effect that will change Europe and societies in industrialized nations for many years to come.