Greek parliament passes new austerity package
The Greek parliament approved a new austerity plan on Thursday evening. The package is based on a recent deal with Athens' creditors and foresees, in exchange for another tranche of bailout aid, cutbacks amounting to 4.9 billion euros that will mainly affect pensioners and the middle class. Europe's media complain that over the years the austerity programmes have failed to achieve their goal.
Greece budgeted to death
Le Courrier is outraged at the continuation of the disastrous austerity policy:
“This catalogue of measures in return for the 'international aid' is entirely worthy of its predecessors: budget cuts, slashes in incomes (in particular pensions), and tax hikes. In two years, 4.9 billion euros will be squeezed from the pockets of a nation that has already been bled dry. After a decade of social decline unprecedented in European history, the results of this policy of competitive deflation are spectacular. The sacrifice of social rights, the mass layoffs, the abysmal drop in incomes, the weakening of the public services, privatisations, the impoverishment of the weakest in society and the renunciation of sovereignty have been rewarded with negative growth, mass unemployment and rising indebtedness!”
Politicians not focussed on solving crisis
To Vima yearns for national consensus:
“We have been trapped in a crisis and recession for seven years because the politicians have been unable to show even a minimum of understanding for each other's position, and instead focussed on blocking the way out of the crisis and putting personal and party interests above the collective, national interest. We've had one austerity programme after another, promises and hope alternate with each other, however the politicians are preoccupied with anything but this. All they care about is coming to power and staying there. The citizens then bear the consequences, but they also bear part of the blame because they always want to hear new promises.”
Where's the resistance?
The government had no right to make such sweeping concessions to the creditors, commentator Giannis Pretenteris writes in Ta Nea:
“The problem with the fourth austerity memorandum isn't just that it foresees further pension cuts and tax hikes - entailing a lack of social justice and economic logic. The problem is deeply political. No one gave the government the right to reach an agreement with the creditors, and no democratic constitutional order can tolerate the conditions of this agreement. I don't know how the opposition will react, but tears for pensioners and freelancers aren't enough. What's happening now is far more important than that and demands a serious response.”
Schizophrenia is crippling the country
The Greek citizens themselves are to blame for the fact that their country can't escape austerity, blogger Dimitris Danikas observes in the weekly Proto Thema:
“I have a well-founded suspicion that we want two things that are mutually exclusive. We want to remain in the Eurozone but we don't want austerity or reform measures. We want loans but we don't want to pay them back. This contradiction, this utopia, this illusion, is the root of our 'paralysis'. The current political system is exploiting our 'schizophrenia'. ... We, the citizens, are the main problem. We, the onlookers - not the politicians who have been the directors of this horror film for the past eight years! Or to put it simply: Are we against all those who whip us on a daily basis? If so we should prove it and be disobedient: here and now! Otherwise we should shut up and stick it out!”