By Terrance Heath
Campaign for America's Future
Jan 27, 2015 - After five years of protests, demonstrations and strikes, Greek citizens voted to throw off five years of crushing austerity. Their victory has emboldened populist parties across Europe, and should inspire Americans to resist austerity here at home.
The victory of Greece’s leftist anti-austerity Syriza party, and Alexis Tsipiras’ ascension to prime minister ushers in a government that will push back against the austerity measures devised by the troika of Greece’s international creditors and the International Monetary Fund, and accepted by the country’s economic elite, after the crash of Greece’s economy in 2009.
Greece’s new leaders left little doubt about their intentions as they celebrated victory.
Alexis_Tsipras“Greece leaves behind the austerity that ruined it, at least behind the fear, leaves behind five years of humiliation, and grease moves forward with optimism and hope and dignity.”
~ Alexis Tsipiras, Greece’s new prime minister
“We are going to destroy the basis upon which they have built, for decade after decade, a system, about a network that viciously sucks the of energy and economic power from everybody else in society. ”
~ Yanis Varoukis, Greece’s new prime minister, on Greece’s oligarchy.
The International Monetary Fund assumed the Greek government could impose austerity without significant impact on economic growth and unemployment. In fact, the IMF assumed Greece’s economy would grow as a result of the 2010 aid package, for which the troika and the IMF demanded austerity measures. The results were disastrous.
- Greece’s economy shrunk by 25 percent, and wages dropped about the same amount.
- Along with shrinking the economy, austerity increased Greece’s national debt.
- Unemployment has reached depression levels. Overall unemployment is at 28 percent. Youth unemployment stands at 60 percent — even after the government lowered the minimum wage for youth by 32 percent, to encourage job creation.
Wealthy Greeks got off scot-free. Cocooned in suburbs, austerity cuts didn’t touch them until mid–2013, when the government ruled that wealthy Greeks were no longer entitled to free police bodyguards. Since 2009, businessmen and journalists threatened by anarchist groups received personal police protection.