Hope is coming.
That’s all that Greeks brutalized by austerity that hit workers, pensioners and the poor but excluded the rich, politicians and tax cheats, had to hear during the brief January Campaign that produced a revolution much like those from the Bastille to the Bolsheviks and now could sweep through other countries in Europe.
Hungry for hope – and, in many cases, for food too – there was an uprising in Greece that blindsided Prime Minister and New Democracy Capitalist leader Antonis Samaras – and Greece’s mainstream political class including the now irrelevant PASOK Anti-Socialists who together ruled in a sorry coalition – and got a Royal ass kicking from the major opposition Coalition of the Looney Left (SYRIZA) in a startling drubbing.
Whether SYRIZA and its band of Che Guevara idolators can rule is another matter because economics is foreign to a political class whose base is a bunch of far-leftist pseudo-philosophers whose ideas come out of sitting around coffee shops smoking hookahs and railing at running yellow dog imperialist Capitalists. Bankers beware.
But what became evident in the last few days leading up to the critical Jan. 25 elections closely watched by the country’s lenders, the Troika of the European Union-International Monetary Fund-European Central Bank (EU-IMF-ECB), was that SYRIZA was riding a surge of boiling anger by Greeks crushed by austerity measures and that it was a sudden tide of the disillusioned of all ages, from pensioners who’d seen their benefits cut while the rich roared along untouched, to the young who’d seen joblessness close to 65 percent at one point.
So it wasn’t just austerity, the big pay cuts, tax hikes, slashed pensions and worker firings that did in Samaras – especially the hated, unified single property tax known as ENFIA in a country where most people (voters) own their homes and were told it was supposed to be temporary – but the injustice that was his undoing.
He admitted it during a brief “We Lost” speech after news of SYRIZA’s triumph filled airways from the BBC to the US to Asia, setting off tremors among the rich that these people were not going to take it anymore, weary of the argument that when economic trouble strikes that the first answer it always to cut people’s pay, raise their taxes, cut their pensions and fire enough of them to scare the rest of them.
We’ll defer to that well-known singer-philosopher Bob Dylan that, “When you got nothing, you got nothing to lose,” to explain how what not long ago seemed like a relatively close race, although it was becoming more apparent the more that Samaras and PASOK’s failed leader Evangelos “Opportunisty” Venizelos pulled an ostrich act and stuck their hands in the sand that SYRIZA was going to prevail because at least someone was listening.
Samaras never saw it coming because when you spend your life on tennis courts, in rich resorts and Amherst you don’t know what it’s like to be scrounging for your next meal. That’s why his administration didn’t blink at firing the likes of Finance Ministry cleaning ladies first, along with school janitors, school nurses, crossing guards and all the other vulnerable while his Invulnerable Class prospered.
You’d think that his former Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras, who started off as a good guy but then went so far into the tank you’d need Frogmen to save him would have been able to do some math and figure out that in a country where some 76 percent of people own their homes – 21st in the world, and the US is 34th – that doubling and more property means means you’ve lost 76 percent of the vote to start with.
It was Venizelos, who, under a previous administration of former PASOK leader George “The Money is There” Papandreou, hit home owners with the hated Haratsi property tax surcharge that was supposed to be for one year.
Like all taxes once they hit the books, this one soon became permanent but this time bore the Samaras Imprimatur, and that’s the face people were throwing darts at since he did it, hungering for the chance to bring him down while the likes of people eating caviar couldn’t understand the rage.
The moment polls closed on Jan. 25 and it was immediately evident SYRIZA had won it soon became apparent the rout was on.
You could say it sent shivers through the spines of politicians but they don’t have any, but it sure put the chill on bankers and the country’s international lenders, the Troika who pushed needy austerity to ridiculous extremes while letting Greece go easy on structural reforms and allowing tax cheats to escape.
When there’s 10 people in a lifeboat and eight of them are rowing while the other two are resting and stealing everyone else’s food it’s not going to take long for the slackers to be thrown overboard and that’s what happened here.
Samaras was on the right path of reform but was not just in how he metered out what was needed but at least now hope is coming for him too because once Tsipras falls flat on his face with Communist-style economics New Democracy will have a slogan to use against him in the next, and soon, elections.
Hell is Coming.