Get­ting in sync with Europe

Kathimerini English - - Front Page - BY COSTAS IORDANIDIS

Af­ter five years, it is start­ing to look as though we are grad­u­ally see­ing the end of all sorts of delu­sions. Chief among these is the de­bunk­ing of the myth, af­ter SYRIZA’s six months in power, that a left-wing gov­ern­ment could act out­side the bounds of a mem­o­ran­dum. Es­sen­tially, the left as a force of change pow­ered by the masses has al­ways been a myth. All of the ma­jor in­sti­tu­tional changes in Greece – from the Septem­ber 3, 1843 re­bel­lion against King Otto to the Me­tapo­litefsi pe­riod af­ter the fall of the 1967-74 mil­i­tary junta – have been car­ried out by pow­ers rep­re­sent­ing the mid­dle classes while the great­est so­cial changes – such as the eight-hour work­day and so­cial se- cu­rity – were en­shrined by the far-right Ioan­nis Me­taxas. The need to spear­head change is trans­form­ing SYRIZA into a sys­temic party – a painful process be­cause a rift is in­evitable. The big­gest para­dox of all – be­yond the agree­ment that Prime Min­is­ter Alexis Tsipras is so ea­ger to sign with in­ter­na­tional cred­i­tors be­fore the end of Au­gust – is how the left-wing party has made such a leap in grasp­ing how Europe re­ally works. The in­tro­duc­tion of cap­i­tal con­trols, for ex­am­ple, re­sulted in a huge in­crease in the use of plas­tic money, with more than a mil­lion new cards be­ing is­sued within a month and a dou- bling of the num­ber of such trans­ac­tions. At the same time, the cap on with­drawals will see money that has been “ma­tressed” grad­u­ally be­ing spent un­til the cash in cir­cu­la­tion comes down to a frac­tion of what it is to­day. Thou­sands of busi­nesses have in­deed been harmed but the type of busi­ness that has mainly evolved over the decades has been based on bor­row­ing, low pro­duc­tiv­ity and ram­pant tax eva­sion – some­thing which needed to end. As a re­sult of these steps, Greece is be­ing mod­ern­ized and SYRIZA is be­hav­ing like a sys­temic party. How­ever, the lack of a dy­namic sys­tem due to do­mes­tic forces means that Greece is sim­ply mov­ing ac­cord­ing to the plan of Ger- man Fi­nance Min­is­ter Wolf­gang Schaeu­ble – al­beit with much rhetor­i­cal op­po­si­tion. Another preva­lent delu­sion of the past five years is that ev­ery so­cial group is in fa­vor of change on the con­di­tion that it is not the one do­ing the chang­ing. Nev­er­the­less, for Greece to con­tinue be­ing a part of the eu­ro­zone it will need a rad­i­cal shake-up and this is a process that is grad­u­ally be­ing com­pleted by the cur­rent coali­tion gov­ern­ment. There is noth­ing strange, there­fore, that Eu­roskep­ti­cism, which didn’t ex­ist in Greece un­til re­cently, is on the rise here just as it is in other parts of the Union. So, even in this re­spect, Greece ap­pears to be get­ting in sync with Europe.

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