Monday, July 25, 2011
Greece needs a new political culture
July 25, 2011
There are not many luxury hotels that allow stray dogs to lie sprawled across their entrance. So I was charmed last week to come across the “Greek riot dog”, sheltering from the summer heat, on the steps of the Grande Bretagne, the smartest hotel in Athens. The yellow pooch has become famous on YouTube because of the enthusiasm with which he participates in anti-government demonstrations. He may soon be back in action.
To secure the fresh funds promised by the eurozone last week, the Greek government has had to commit to years of strict austerity. The country’s future seems to promise blood, sweat and tear-gas.
The Greek elite is struggling to keep its nerve, under enormous pressure. One government minister says that for the past 18 months, “every week has brought a new catastrophe”, adding: “It is like a war. The country is in huge danger.”
Without new loans from Europe and the International Monetary Fund, the Greek government would have run out of money within months. The payment of wages and pensions might have stopped and banks could have collapsed. Greece also imports most of its food and energy – and that too could have been threatened.