Drastic Times Call For Semi-Drastic Measures in Greece
If I remember right, Greece, like a lot of Europe, has four or five significant political parties. There’s the two major center-right/center-left parties more or less similar to our Republicans and Democrats, a far-right party (Golden Dawn) and a conglomerate of leftists (think communists, Marxists, greens, etc.) , Syriza.
This week Syriza won an impromptu election in the Greek parliament and they’re now the majority party (not *the* majority), beating out the more “mainstream” parties. It should also be noted that Golden Dawn didn’t do too bad in this election, considering some of the opposition they faced from the establishment in Greece and the rest of Europe over the past two years, ranging from media smears to jailing party leaders.
Although Syriza is several shades left of the center-left party (New Democracy? I can’t remember their name), they have rounded their edges off a little bit to be more populist. Despite toning it down a notch, Syriza’s victory wasn’t exactly well-received in the rest of the European Union. The Greek stock market dropped, more capital fled Greece, one of the big shots in Germany made a statement about how the Greeks could vote for whoever they wanted, but Germans shouldn’t have to pay for it (ok he’s got a point) and the media has been treating this like a bunch of bratty children with a list of impossible demands (ok, I’m skeptical of Syriza’s ability to deliver free lunches again too). Of course there’s been lots of panic that this will lead towards Greece leaving the EU and bring on the economic apocalypse everyone has been fearing.
I think the victory of a party like Syriza (or Golden Dawn, for that matter) is only possible when the current paradigm is failing…and it sure is in Greece. There’s 50% youth unemployment (I also think it’s interesting that Alexis Tsipras, HMFIC, is only 40), social services getting slashed, prices up and grim prospects of ever getting back to the “good ol’ days”. No one seems to have a palatable plan to solve Greece’s problems, as many Greeks feel they’re getting shafted by austerity measures at the time they need it the most and the other Europeans aren’t happy about footing the bill for it. Both sides have valid points, I believe.
At any rate, I thought this was a notable development in the world, starting to see the status quo crack a bit on the fringes of the western world. If you would’ve asked me before this I would’ve figured that one of Europe’s far right parties would’ve been the first to really break through and I didn’t think about Syriza, even though I’ve been following the situation in Greece.