On October 4th 2009, the center-left PASOK party, led by George Papandreou, defeated Kostas Karamanlis after 5 years of New Democracy rule.
While the murmurings of a debt problem had surfaced in the run-up to the elections, none of the Greek people could have imagined what lay in store. After many decades, the year 2010 finally saw the results of a country living well beyond its means. The blame lies with many. Let’s not forget our US chums, Goldman Sachs, who helped the then government mask the true extent of the deficit.
Ultimately though, successive Greek governments are responsible.
The real victims of course are the people. One thing Greece could do would be to follow the Icelandic example after their banking crisis of 2008. Last year, 26 bankers were jailed for crimes related to the economic meltdown. Now the Greek people have rightly protested continuously against the criminal austerity they have been subjected to over the last 6 years, but they might have reluctantly accepted the conditions had they seen countless, corrupt politicians being put behind bars.
Of course, this wouldn’t have prevented the hard times that the country has had to endure in order to get back on its feet, but there would at least have been a sense of some justice being done.
One of the most telling points over the last 6 years came before SYRIZA assumed power in early 2015. The economy had, for the first time since the crisis, engulfed the country, begun to grow. The hard decisions and sacrifices made were starting to pay off. Instead of staying on that path though, Alexis Tsipras was elected with the laughable promise he made that his party would take on and change Europe. We all know how that has worked out.
However, there is little point in thinking ‘what if’. We are, for now anyway, run by a bunch of radical clowns. Our saving grace is that they have their hands tied by the European Union. I am no fan of the EU, but it is all we have now. A ‘Grexit’ would have been suicidal.
Greece simply has to adhere to the terms of the latest bailout – however difficult or unfair they may seem. This country has had it too good for too long – that is the result of the socialist mentality instilled by Andreas Papandreou in the 1970s. It doesn’t work and it never will.
Greece will prevail, despite the hardships. Back in 2010, the scale of what was to come was no longer a secret. That said, it’s still not too late to accept the facts, take the harsh medicine and slowly but surely turn the economy back towards growth. It will just take more time.