Greeks Plan to Protest Merkel's Visit, Will Propose the Impossible as an Alternative to Austerity

German Chancellor Angela Merkel is scheduled to visit Greece next Tuesday to meet with Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras. It doesn’t look like she is going to receive the best of welcomes.

Many Greeks are unhappy with the German government, which is insisting on the Greek government making privatizations and reforms before receiving the next installment of their bailout (even though Merkel herself seems to be open to relaxing these conditions). German taxpayers are expected to contribute a huge amount to the European bailout fund and it is understandable that the German government would want to attach strict conditions to any assistance. Some Greeks think that recovery and membership of the euro is compatible without a drastic change is fiscal culture and will be protesting Merkel’s arrival:

But Greece's main labor unions were swift to call a protest rally outside Parliament on Tuesday against "the neoliberal policies of Mrs. Merkel and the European Union's core leadership," and a three-hour work stoppage in Athens to facilitate participation.

The unions said in a statement that "workers, pensioners and unemployed people can take no more of the European Union's punitive policies."

These policies continue to be strongly resisted by many Greeks, despite the fact that self-described socialist politicians such as Alexis Tsipras from SYRIZA (Greece’s left-wing coalition) have stopped strongly resisting the measures being imposed. From the World Socialist Website published by the International Committee of the Fourth International:

Since the election in June, Tsipras has sought to appease popular opposition to the cuts by raising a number of social demands, such as an end to austerity measures. However, a closer look reveals that his promises are empty.

Since the election campaign, he has abandoned demands such as the reversal of privatizations and previous austerity measures—demands that he cynically advanced while pledging to repay Greece’s debts to the financial markets and the European Union.

Unfortunately for those who plan to protest Merkel’s visit there is no way for Greece to say in the euro without a drastic change in behavior. It is just not politically possible for Germans and other more prosperous countries to bail Greece out without conditions.

According to Samaras, Greece has a little over a month before it defaults on its debt, after which euro membership is hard to imagine. If membership of the single currency is something that the protesters on Tuesday want they should learn to live with the fact that eurozone membership will be conditional on austerity measures. There is no way that the rest of Europe will continue to support Greece without changes. 

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  • Hugh Akston||

    I wonder why there aren't more protests in Germany. If my tax money was going to bail out decadent loser in Greece I would be pissed off.

  • ||

    Germans.

  • Gladstone||

    I wonder what is the Social Democrats' position on the bailouts? Are Germans mad at the bailouts going to vote for a party that wants more bailouts?

  • ||

    The candidate for the SPD isn't ruling out a third bailout package for Greece. He's also 10 percentage points behind Merkel so make of that what you will.

  • Gladstone||

    The CDU/CSU got 12 more percentage points that the SDP in the last election so I guess that is good for Merkel?

  • ||

    It depends. They are in a coalition with the (technically libertarian) Free Democrats who currently are scratching the 5% threshold needed to enter the Bundestag. If they make it the breakdown is 42% for Merkel vs 40% for the center-left coalition.

  • Gladstone||

    Hmm... What is the position of the Greens and the Left on the bailouts?

  • ||

    The Greens are wishy-washy, as are most of the other parties. Bailouts with conditions.

    The Left party is obviously in solidarity with the exploited Greek workers.

    I am not sure that these positions are meaningful. All the mainstream parties (excluding the Left) have shown a semi-sane approach to fiscal policy when in office while being totally insane in other policy areas.

    My prediction would be a muddling through with further bailouts as needed as long as the Greeks don't go completely nuts.

  • entropy||

    WWII war guilt.

    They don't want to be the ones who pulls the plug on "Europe".

  • ||

    It's more the latter. Europe has been quite beneficial for Germany.

  • Death Rock and Skull||

    I think its that Germany, too, is as much in to collectivist utopian shit as the rest of Europe.

  • ||

    Quite right. Different flavor though. We krauts have convinced ourselves that we can run one of the most advanced economies on the planet entirely on wind and solar.

  • Death Rock and Skull||

    What is unique about that? Economic central planning is a foundational progressive series of repeated failures.

  • ||

    Well, I was agreeing with you.

    Just trying to point out that the utopianism / planning in Germany is focused on environmentalism. Fiscally Germans are way more disabused of fantasy budgeting than Americans for instance. Tell them something is made out of genes however (or nuclear genes for added effect) and they'll become catatonic and roll up in the fetal position.

  • ant1sthenes||

    WWII guilt. Sounds too much like eugenics.

  • ||

    *eyes article suspiciously*

    I can see nothing wrong with the piece....therefor there must be something wrong with it.

  • ||

    That's the kind of objection I see on cop pieces sometimes (not just here): someone will say, "Gee whillikers, this looks really bad, therefore 'the other side' of the story MUST be missing." As if bad conduct ALWAYS has some explanation to show the guy didn't do anything wrong.

  • ||

    We already know that Greece will leave the EuroZone. If they weren't leaving, then the Obama adminsitration would not be pushing European politicians to delay the news until after the election.

  • ||

    Fuck the polloi Hellenoi. The Germans should just cut the supply -- without EU consent.

  • Jerry on the road||

    They can't. It's the price they have to pay for obtaining reunification with East-Germany in 1991.

  • Death Rock and Skull||

    Greece's hairy, homoerotic, promiscuous flamboyant bullshit needed to land good an hard in the actual reality of their culture being entitled socialist retards, not be refueled in air.

  • ||

    There aren't any good outcomes. If Greece stays in there will not only be further bailouts but probably also some kind of transfer scheme similar to the one for East Germany, say 80bn euros/year.

    If Greece exits Germany stands to loose ca. 70 - 100bn euros if no contagion happens. If all the PIIGS leave the loss will be around 500bn euros. Then there's the little issue of the 500bn euros in assets amassed by the Bundesbank under the TARGET2 exchange mechanism. Plus possible bailouts for the banks.

  • ||

    In other news, Alcoholics Anonymous has proposed another solution to alcoholism:

    We don't need to stop drinking, we just need more money for booze.

    AA is asking for only several billion dollars to fund their new detoxification alternative.

  • ||

    Finally a bailout a libertarian can get behind.

  • ant1sthenes||

    Germans should stop demanding nice behavior from Greeks (which won't happen, and definitely won't last if it does), and just purchase Greek territory (with the residents not gaining German citizenship).

  • شات عراقنا||

    thank u

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