How better to start the day than with an ironic take on events by one of my favourite cartoonists, Matt.
In a turbulent all-night session, Greek PM Mr. Tsipras managed to get Parliament to ratify austerity terms previously rejected by his government, in a desperate bid to secure the country’s future in the Eurozone.
Mr. Tsipras explained his about-face by saying he did not get a mandate from the people to take Greece out of the Eurozone, confirming his pre-referendum assertion that a NO vote was not a vote against Europe. He has recognized that the pain of capital controls and economic collapse is too much to bear. Mr. Tsipras had promised voters a miracle which he was unable to deliver – the only way he can now redeem himself is if at least he achieves some restructuring (or what Mrs. Merkel calls re-profiling) of the debt.
He got 251 votes, bolstered by opposition parties, but lost the majority within his own party. The left faction of SYRIZA voted against, which is understandable from their point of view. They have been against all along. They accuse the ECB of using ‘liquidity asphyxiation’ to bring a rebel democracy to its knees. And they accuse the PM for not having a Plan B if Europe did not give in to his demands.
Major architect of the whole fiasco, ex Finance Minister Varoufakis, did not vote. He left for his holiday home on the island of Aegina, citing ‘personal reasons’ – a bizarre turn of events that was widely condemned by all parties. Readers’ comments in the press have vilified him as a rat leaving a sinking ship which he himself helped scuttle.
New Finance Minister Mr. Tsakalotos admitted that the measures proposed will reinforce austerity, but insisted we had to look at the big picture and promised to aid the weaker members of society.
However, Mr. Tsipras warned that the battle is not won yet, since it is far from certain the new proposals will be accepted by the lenders.
Conclusion: We will – should? – be happy if we manage to achieve a new agreement which will be similar to, and tougher than, the one we nearly got before the referendum.
To end on a lighter note, yesterday farmers in Thessaloniki rolled up
with truckloads of watermelons which they proceeded to distribute to the pensioners waiting in line in the heat outside banks to get their money. They thought they could do with some refreshment.