The country has voted: it’s a landslide for NO. No to more austerity, no to the disastrous economic policies of the Troika. It was also made clear that people are sick of the old political system, which bears a lot of responsibility for the situation in which we find ourselves. It is time for a real change. As I was writing this, the chief of the opposition, New Democracy leader Mr. Samaras, announced his resignation.
The European institutions have warned that this would be a step towards a Grexit.
The Greek PM however, has insisted that the NO vote would just be a show of support that would give him greater powers of negotiation and help him achieve a better deal. He has promised to deliver within 48 hours. Godspeed – I don’t think a single Greek, whatever they voted for, does not wish him well.
He is facing a mammoth task. The hard facts are the following:
The banks are shut, and likely to remain so for a while. Panic rumors are going around that there will be a haircut of deposits and that the contents of safe deposit boxes will be confiscated.
Most ATM machines are empty and the rest only give each person €50 instead of the €60 allowed since they have run out of €20 and €10 notes.
The tourist season is in ruins. Most Greeks cannot afford a holiday and there are multiple cancelations from abroad. Hotels will run out of supplies in ten days. Hospitals already lack basic necessities and medicines. Many small businesses will close because they need cash to function on a day to day basis. Their business will be taken over by multinationals who can afford to remain unpaid for a while. A lot of people will be laid off.
50% of children in the Athens region go to school without breakfast. More than 60% of young people are unemployed. Many thousands have committed suicide. A few hundred thousand have been obliged to emigrate.
And the elephant in the room: what will happen to the hundreds of destitute immigrants arriving on our shores every day? Who will feed them? Where will they go?
We hear the Italians are expressing solidarity. The Germans are intransigent: they think it’s time we went. These are the messages we’ve got so far.
It is my sincerest wish both sides will see their way forward to an agreement that will allow Greece to survive, recover and, in the future, thrive. The next few days and weeks are vital. It will be hard, but let’s hope the difficulties can be overcome. The alternative is a leap into the unknown.
For the moment, I feel we are like jellyfish pushed around by the currents.