Unmet expectations

Over the recent period, Greece has appeared to be seeking a return to the glorious days of the PASOK party’s first term in power in the early 1980s. The huge effort that was made in the past in order to join EMU and the excessive expectations that were cultivated by government officials regarding developments after we joined the eurozone are now imprinted on society, which deems that its time has come to make its demands and reap the reward for its efforts. Although the prime minister has pointed out that the difficult times have only just begun – as he is aware that genuine convergence will require far greater sacrifices than the nominal one just achieved – many professional groups have raised the stakes, asking for a rapid convergence of incomes with the EU average, meaning a 30- to 70-percent increase. This request seems absurd and maximalistic and is clearly being used as a bargaining weapon, but it conceals a clear message: There is no willingness to make further sacrifices or to accept a reduction of incomes. Of course, there are many counterarguments. Our productivity is at a very low level, our exports are minimal and in no way suffice to cover the distance separating our incomes from those of the EU; and the circumstances both inside and outside Greece do not foster expectations for high profits that would prompt the country’s productive forces to make investments and create new jobs.

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