Awaiting results

Yesterday, Prime Minister George Papandreou rescinded the election promises that brought him to power with a 10.5 percent margin over New Democracy. He raised the value-added tax, which will affect lower income groups, trimmed the benefits of public sector employees and ignored the political cost «for the country’s sake.» Being a politician, he did not want to appear unreliable, so he attacked the policies of the former ND administrations of Costas Karamanlis. On PASOK’s initiative, an investigative committee will be set up to look into a number of financial scandals, though only those that pertain to the 2005-09 period. ND is being blamed for mismanaging the country’s finances. Meanwhile, Finance Minister Giorgos Papaconstantinou has stated that he has been frequently asked by his European peers whether anyone will end up behind bars. In an effort to salvage his public image, Papandreou and his government are fomenting conflict between the ruling party and the opposition. The objective, obviously, is to undermine the conservatives in order to counterbalance the loss of support from the working class and the overwhelming majority of civil servants. In short, political culture has given way to political primitivism. However, the dire state of Greece’s economy is the result of the creative accounting tactics employed for the first time when Costas Simitis’s PASOK administration was negotiating Greece’s entry into the eurozone. Other countries in the bloc employed similar tactics, but the difference is that they eventually stopped, while Greece did not. The measures announced yesterday were of a cash-seeking nature and they will deal a blow to people’s purchasing power, while nothing was said about boosting entrepreneurship and investment, the main engines of growth. What these measures will most likely result in is a deeper recession and social and political strife – and Greece cannot afford this.

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