Daniel Howden: Greek elections were the last tantrum of a spoilt child

 

Share
Related Topics

“Breathe Hellenes, breathe,” the morning show host implored. Greece was waking up to the election results and Real FM was telling its listeners what had happened.

The Hellenes had sent a message to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) that the country was not for sale and that its German occupiers must “board the next Lufthansa” out of Athens. Two-and-a-half years of financial blackmail by “hidden interests” were over and Greeks could breathe again. Despite the triumphalist tone it was appropriate that the DJ was telling his countrymen to breathe as you usually give the same instructions to a hysterical child.

Far from a patriotic rebellion against foreign occupiers Sunday's elections were actually the last tantrum of a spoilt child. Greece's last elections were won by a party which ran on the slogan “there is money” when everyone knew that there wasn't. Since then the full extent of the country's bankruptcy has emerged, the full consequences of which have been avoided by a massive package of conditional aid and debt restructuring led by the IMF, the EU and the European Central Bank.

The conditions demanded in return for that aid were structural reforms aimed at untangling some parts of the economy from a state that over time had come to resemble a combination of a Soviet Republic and Mubarak's Egypt.

Those reforms, known to Greeks as the “memorandum”, have subsequently been sabotaged by rent-seeking political parties who were never willing or able to implement them. And now in popular parlance it's the memorandum itself which is to blame for everything.

Rather than take any responsibility for the crisis, the civil servants who took bribes to do their jobs, the businesses that ran in closed shops that they staunchly defended, the middle class that exploited cheap migrant labour and the unions who looted state utilities all took out their rage on the political class.

The elections revealed that an enormous number of Greeks had taken refuge in absurd conspiracy theories, wishful thinking and racism. The results punished moderates who refused to lie to the people about the dilemma they faced and rewarded extremists on the right and left who wilfully ignored reality and responsibility.

There is real suffering in the European south and legitimate questions over the makeup of austerity programmes. Europe is now set for a debate over the balance between growth and austerity in meeting the debt crisis but Greece, which preferred a tantrum to any attempt at reform, will not be in a position to benefit.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Qualified Primary Teaching Assistant

£64 - £73 per day + Competitive rates based on experience : Randstad Education...

Primary KS2 NQTs required in Lambeth

£117 - £157 per day + Competitive London rates: Randstad Education Group: * Pr...

Primary NQTs required in Lambeth

£117 - £157 per day + Competitive London rates: Randstad Education Group: * Pr...

Primary NQTs required in Lambeth

£117 - £157 per day + Competitive London rates: Randstad Education Group: * Pr...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Piper Ryan Randall leads a pro-Scottish independence rally in the suburbs of Edinburgh  

i Editor's Letter: Britain survives, but change is afoot

Oliver Duff Oliver Duff
Some believe that David Cameron is to blame for allowing Alex Salmond a referendum  

Scottish referendum: So how about the English now being given a chance to split from England?

Mark Steel
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam