The desperation felt by whatever part of the middle class still survives is hard to describe and it is becoming a threat to the country’s stability. When you see people who used to be the backbone of the middle class turning to the far left or the far right you know things have reached a point of no return.
More property taxes announced in the latest round of bad news was the final straw. Most people simply don’t have the money to pay and those who do could end up having their finances inspected as their access to cash may be seen as suspicious.
Sure, some may be self-employed tax evaders, restaurateurs or medical professionals who see abiding by the law as a nasty habit. But what about the rest? Why should they see their savings disappear, their homes at risk of seizure and their standard of living collapse? There are a lot of people in this category, people who have worked really hard and who now feel anger toward everyone out there. They see Prime Minister Antonis Samaras working to change the climate but get annoyed when they think back to his stance as opposition leader. They also seem to have written off PASOK.
And that’s where things start getting a little crazy. No member of the middle class believes that if SYRIZA came to power they would pay fewer taxes or that the Greek economy would grow strong. Common sense dictates that if the country is currently operating on a semi-Soviet tax system while waging a sneaky war against any risk-taker wishing to invest, a SYRIZA-in-power scenario would make anyone long for a return to current tax levels. If the so-called assets register is drawn, moreover, all the necessary tools will be in place for all kinds of excess.
People cannot think straight when certainties are shattered. Conspiracy theories have become mainstream and are being embraced by people once considered sensible. Golden Dawn could close shop tomorrow but another peddler of anger and paranoia could take its place and sell its wares with the help of eager go-betweens.
Samaras faces some tough dilemmas: shift right, lean toward the center, call early elections or wait and see whether our partners loosen up the debt’s knot in time, without another memorandum? I’d hate to be in his shoes, but the best thing he could probably do would be to make a decision based on what legacy he wants to leave behind. But I do feel that the window of opportunity for change that is currently open to Greece will not stay that way forever. The worst thing that could happen is for people to begin thinking there is absolutely no way out of the crisis. Because that’s when we’d all vote for chaos. Dangerous stuff, indeed.