In These New Times

A new paradigm for a post-imperial world

Springtime for the Eurozone?

Posted by seumasach on February 28, 2012


Demetris Kamaras


20th February, 2012

This winter has been cold and ugly. You could say it was a Greek ‘Winter of Discontent’, minus Margaret Thatcher.

Greek people have tested themselves against killer fiscal statistics, household economic pressure, irrational arguments and dead-end nationalist heroisms. Within this mess, obnoxious politicians were engaged in ridiculous manoeuvring, failing to understand that they were stoking a runaway train that was heading towards a fallen bridge; the one that used to connect them to their constituencies.

Lately, more and more media reports describe the hard time people give to politicians that appear in public places. Each time an MP is recognised by a crowd of citizens, the stare in their eyes brings in mind scenes from a very famous splatter movie, whose title could be paraphrased: “I know what you have done for the last thirty years.”

Even in the case of some former MPs who have retired and now work in the(ir) fields harvesting crops (thus promoting a positive message), one cannot ignore that they are already sitting on fat pensions that citizens keep paying for.

If speculations are correct, and today’s Eurogroup approves the second loan agreement, the PSI deal and ECB indirect help and most importantly, Greek politicians leave behind their bad selves in the next month or so, then Greece may have a good chance to exit the crisis and restart its economy.

In the meantime, however, upcoming elections will be the final test for Greek politics and their representatives. Until 2009, the casual drill for party cadres was to raise the tones and engage in dogfights to make a difference, mobilise voters, and define the (pseudo) dilemmas.

Well, I hope that the past two years of political deconstruction have taught them to think twice before they engage in old style routines.

Sunday, 19 February was the first time that mainstream pollsters had to sum up the ND and PASOK parliament seats voting potential to be able to form an argument as regards the ‘governmentability’ factor. This fact alone suggests that things have changed.

If government moves that follow Eurogroup’s approval succeed in delivering fast track, then Orthodox Easter will be a unique pre-election period.

For many, it will be the end of their careers in politics. Those who have the courage to address citizens face-to-face will also take over the responsibility of talking to them about the future.

Astonishingly, the first day of spring 2012 (1 March) marks the end of the ten-year exchange period of drachma banknotes for euro at the Bank of Greece.

Along with this, one could also say that it marks the end of a Greek-style grace period, albeit in the most dramatic way.

The symbolism is clear. What we also need is to clear our heads. Eurozone support, political courage and a spring restart are what Greece needs to go forward, not back.

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