Greece is like a leaking boat in the perfect storm. Five years of crisis have laid waste to a large part of society and ravaged the political system and as though that were not enough we now have the refugee and migrant crisis to contend with.
How much pressure can a nation and a state take before cracking?
I try to keep positive despite the gloom as we come to the end of an extremely tough and eventful year. The caravan, as Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said, is plodding on – with broken wheels and victims strewn by the wayside, but it keeps moving forward. If – and this is a big if – some things are done in the next few weeks we may be able to say that we’ve reached a milestone. There are two areas that are of key importance, both on an actual and a symbolic level. The first is social security reform and the second is the completion of the biggest privatization project so far, that of the country’s regional airports. If Tsipras follows through, we will be able to say that he’s turned over a new leaf, leading a left-wing government capable of implementing that most painful of reforms and the most impressive sell-off. The investment climate will certainly improve and those who are betting on a Greek failure will have to find somewhere else to put their chips.
The question is whether these two measures will be enough to say that the country has turned a page.
That depends on expectations.
Anyone who thought the Greek crisis would play out like Broadway drama with a happy ending already is probably disappointed.
What we have here is a typical Balkan drama consisting of one-act plays with intense elements of tragedy, comedy and hopeless mediocrity. This is how it will go for some time yet.
My very reserved optimism is tempered by an observation that is shared by an increasing number of people: that the country keeps slipping back to the days of the early 1980s in terms of its attitude toward institutions, public administration and political culture.
We thought the days of blatant cronyism when it came to political appointments to key posts in the civil service were over and that some things remained shielded from such power games. Instead, what we are seeing is decisions that are pushing Greece further away from Europe at a time when the memorandums are supposed to be achieving the opposite.
The conclusions? Greece is still standing. Unless, that is, the fatigue and fragmentation make it vulnerable to a hit that does not concern the economy.