Thessaloniki

“I wish I could leave Greece. I can’t go on living here. I work very long hours and live more frugally than ever, but I still can’t pay the bills, the income tax or the other taxes like the property poll tax. “My tax debt keeps building up. I’ll end up losing my home. They are stealing our homes and they are not communists. And people are getting sadder and madder every day. I can’t go on like this.”
In yet another parliamentary coup, new austerity measures were passed through parliament, albeit by a narrow majority, on March 30. The bill contained three articles, which seem to give the final blow to the remaining worker and pension rights, the country’s economy and public ownership of land and services. As the bill was passed, protesters outside parliament were beaten, tear-gassed and detained by special police squads.
The Greek right-wing New Democracy(ND) party won the June 17 elections by a narrow margin, getting 29.7% of the vote. Left-wing Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) came second with 26.9% on a clear platform of opposing the savage austerity measures imposed on Greece. ND’s dubious victory was largely achieved through blackmail and mud-slinging against SYRIZA ― as well as promises to negotiate the harsh memorandum measures if it was elected.
On the eve of the June 17, 2012 elections in Greece, Green Left correspondent Afrodity Giannakis reports from Thessalonika, on the hopes and fears of a people being forced to bear the burden for a global capitalist economic crisis built on the greed, speculation and corruption of the rich and powerful minority.
The people of Greece will go to the polls on May 6 to replace the unelected government of Prime Minister Lucas Papademos imposed by the Greek and European elites on November 10. The imposed government was a three-party coalition, consisting of the social-democratic Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK), traditional right-wing New Democracy (ND) and extreme-right Popular Orthodox Alert (LAOS). LAOS left the government in February.
“The Tsolakoglou Occupation government has literally crushed my prospects for survival, so far based on a decent pension, which I alone (without supplementation from the State) financed over 35 years.” That was how the suicide note left by 77-year-old retired pharmacist Dimitris Christoulas began. It likened the current government to the collaborationist regime during the German occupation in World War II, led by Georgios Tsolakoglou. He was arrested and tried for his role.
Hundreds of thousands protested around the Athens parliament on February 12. Tens of thousands protested in Thessaloniki, the country's second biggest city, and sizeable protests took place in other Greek cities. The rallies followed a 48-hour strike over February 10-11. They were organised in opposition to the new austerity package signed by the Greek government and the “troika” of the International Monetary Fund, European Central Bank and European Union (EU). See also:
When a regime loses it ... Green Left journalist Afrodity Giannakis, in Thessaloniki, collects below some of the great words of the great Greek politicians in the days of the savage austerity imposed on the country. Who said that pro-austerity Greek politicians are just insensitive blood-sucking beasts? Below are some great quotes expressing their finer human side. Other quotes display their deep appreciation of various artistic trends. For more details on the horrific austerity being imposed on Greece, read Giannakis's most recent article
Greek unions launched a two-day general strike on February 10 against new extreme austerity measures the “troika” of the International Monetary Fund, European Central Bank and European Union is seeking to impose on the southern European nation. The deal will give Greece a new “bail-out” worth 130 billion euros (A$161 billion) in return for fresh spending cuts. Amid ongoing street protests and building occupations, the Greek cabinet approved the deal on February 10. Six cabinet members resigned in protest. Greek parliament was scheduled to vote on the deal on the evening of February 12.
The savage austerity in Greece has affected people’s lives in many different ways. The hardship faced by Greek people has been directly reflected in their psychological condition. It is indicative that there has been a big increase in suicides in Greece. In September, the Greek health ministry said suicides in the first five months of 2011 may have risen by 40% compared to the same period of 2010. See also
“There is money.” That was the major election campaign slogan of the Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) in October 2009.   It was pompously used by the party’s leader, George Papandreou. PASOK won the election largely on that basis.   By saying that money existed, Papandreou was promising to alleviate some of the suffering caused through years of brutal neoliberal attacks. People believed a PASOK government would redress some of the injustice.   See also
Over October 19-20 there was a general strike in Greece. The overwhelming majority of Greek workers took part in the strike with dynamic demonstrations and other forms of action. In that way, Greek people expressed their anger and despair over the devastating measures carried out in Greece in the past year and a half. The relentless, vicious austerity measures have been imposed by the PASOK (Panhellenic Socialist Movement) government and the “troika” of the International Monetary Fund, the European Central Bank (ECB) and the European Union.
A victory was achieved by the anti-memorandum, anti-government movement on October 28. It was commemoration day of the resistance to the German occupation of Greece, which started in 1940. Across the whole country, the traditional student and military march was turned into an event of protest against the new occupation of Greece being enforced by the “troika” of the International Monetary Fund, the European Central and and the European Union. See also
A 50% cut of part of Greece’s debt was decided on by a summit of European leaders on October 26. The deal will entail long-term austerity measures being enforced on the Greek people. Representatives of the “troika” (the European Union, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund — IMF) will be permanently placed in all Greek ministries to supervise how things are run. If they manage to impose it on Greece, this new form of occupation will likely spread to other countries. See also
The lead-up to the payment of the sixth installment of International Monetary Fund (IMF) loans to Greece, to be handed out in October, finds Greek people in a state of shock and helplessness. The first “memorandum” agreement was signed by the Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) government with the IMF and European Union (EU) representatives in May 2010. It came after two decades of savage neoliberal attacks by successive New Democracy (the major right-wing party) and PASOK (so-called “socialist”) governments.
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