On Sunday night, February 12, the Greek Parliament passed the new austerity measures demanded by the Troika of the International Monetary Fund, the European Commission and the European Central Bank. It is widely agreed that the draconian program will drive the Greek economy even deeper into recession. Very few believe that Greece will avoid defaulting on their debt.
The new “restraint” package includes a 22% reduction in the minimum wage, cuts to pensions and the national pharmaceutical drug program, wage cuts, the elimination of 150,000 government jobs, and the privatization of more government businesses and programs. Companies will now be able to unilaterally reduce wages and break contracts with trade unions.
Public opinion polls show an overwhelming majority of Greeks are opposed to the economic measures being imposed on them. The present government is an alliance between the social democratic party, PASOK, and the conservative New Democracy, presided over by Lucas Papademos, an unelected prime minister and former banker. The latest poll shows 79% opposed to the bailout package, which is designed to try to protect the international banks and their investments in Greek government bonds.
The two major trade union confederations have been holding general strikes across Greece for over a year now. They are formally linked to PASOK, Greece’s version of Canada’s New Democratic Party (NDP). In the 2009 election for the Greek parliament PASOK received 44% of the vote and formed a minority government. In the most recent public opinion poll, their support among potential voters has fallen to 9%. New Democracy is holding at 31%, just slightly less than they received in 2009.
|Greeks support general strike|
The Greek crisis has shifted public opinion away from the neoliberal social democrats and towards the parties of the left. Support for he Communist Party (PKK), which has played an important role in the general strikes, stands at 13%. The Coalition of the Radical Left, a left green party, is at 12%. The Democratic Left, a socialist party created in 2010, stands at 18%.
When voters were asked who would be the best leader for Greece at this time, the results show the general shift to the left:
Fotis Kouvelis of the Democratic Left – 56%
Alexis Tsipras of the Coalition of the Radical left – 41%
Antonis Samaras of New Democracy - 31%.