Friday, June 29, 2012
Greece’s political crisis persists
June 29, 2012
Eleven days ago, the apocalypse did not happen. The Greek elections took place, and the radicals did not win. Syriza — the neo-Marxist, anti-austerity party whose members call one another “comrade” and whose policies include the creation of 100,000 new government jobs — did not get the most votes. New Democracy, the establishment center-right party, emerged victorious, though just barely. They formed a shaky coalition with two center-left parties and promised to push through the budget cuts that the European Union has imposed as a quid pro quo for propping up Greece’s economy. The financial world breathed a sigh of relief: Crisis averted.
That relief may have been premature. Eleven days ago, the apocalypse did not happen — but since then, the apocalypse has continued to unfold in slow motion. The new government has pledged to maintain “austerity” even as crises of various kinds erupt all around it. The newly appointed finance minister resigned after being hospitalized on the day he was supposed to be sworn in. The newly appointed deputy minister for the merchant marines resigned after being accused of conflicts of interest. The newly appointed prime minister is recovering from an emergency eye operation and couldn’t attend a crucial European Union summit this week. Early Wednesday morning, three armed men drove a bus containing gasoline canisters through the entrance to Microsoft’s Athens headquarters and then set it alight. No one was hurt, and the building didn’t blow up, but the ground floor was heavily damaged.