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Greek Tragedy Continues: New Austerity Measures After The Elections

The elections on May 6 are the first since the Greek crisis exploded, and come as the country desperately attempts to bring its finances under control. It appears unlikely any one party will win a majority, meaning a coalition government is a likely outcome. Unlike the elections of previous years, Greek voters have no illusions. They are fully aware that it doesn’t really matter who will come into power as the decisions are taken in Brussels and Washington rather than in Athens. Whether the leader that is going to apply the new austerity measures is Antonis Samaras or Evangelos Venizelos is of little importance to cash stripped Greeks who can’t even afford to buy the basics.

Immediately after the elections, the expected new government will hit both the pensions and wages. Continued reductions in wages, the explosion of unemployment, and reductions in contributions under the new memorandum has made it impossible for the Greek government to reach the goals agreed with the troika. So once again, Greek policy makers will apply the policy they know best: more reductions. Whether the suicide rates will continue to rise, or more children will be fainting out of starvation in Greek schools, is of little importance to Greece’s saviors.

Here are some of the new austerity measures the new government will be required to apply:

1. Cuts in pensions and social benefits, but in a way that social protection is going to be maintained.
2. Cutbacks in defense spending without questioning the country’s defense capability.
3. Restructuring of the central government, which will operate with less staff, meaning that there will be more layoffs in the public sector.
4. Cuts in drug costs and expenses of hospitals and welfare benefits.
5. It’s almost certain that given the situation, the wages and the pension will be butchered (again) by at least 15%.

Despite the silence of the government before the elections, the troika is in Athens and is working feverishly on the new measures. According to Vima newspaper, Troika’s first target is social benefits, including the benefits that are given to the families with three children, single parent families, etc. These benefits will be removed without exception and a new type of a benefit will be given only to people that make minimal income or are below the poverty line. The next goal will be cuts in spending on health and defense, from where the government must save around 6.6 billion euros.

The troika wants the Greek wages both in the public and the private sector to reach levels of 2000, and demands more layoffs from the public sector. They are also preparing more hospitals to merge and public organizations to shut down immediately.

Are these measures going to work? Common sense says no. Just like the previous measures, these measures will bring Greece into deeper recession. They will bring more poverty, more pain, more suicides. How many Greeks have to die before the EU and the IMF bosses kill this austerity obsession? And when will the EU stop behaving as a corporation that only cares for the numbers and not for the well-being of its own people? This was the reason it was created in the first place, wasn’t it?

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