Greek’s have seen austerity at its worst, inflicted by the joint powers of the European Commission, the European Central Bank, and the International Monetary Fund.
The austerians are acting in the interest of the banks of Germany and France, lending institutions that bankrolled arms deals that profited the military/industrial complexes of the lender nations.
While Greek official corruption was clearly involved in some of the deals, the bribe payments came from German companies eager for profits from the sale of weapon systems, warships, and other materiel necessary for the new Cold War.
A succession of Greek governments signed off on massive cuts in public salaries and pensions, restrictions on the national public health system, and the sell-off of ports, railroads, islands, and other public assets.
Finally, the Greek people said “Enough!,” and in and in January 2015, they voted in a new government headed by a previously marginal party, a coalition of the Left named Syriza [previously], swept to power on a platform calling for an end of the payments.
With party leader Alexis Tsipras becoming chancellor, Syriza seemed on track to mount the first real resistance to the ave of austerity programs imposed on nations of Ireland and Southern Europe in the wake of the crash caused by the institutional corruption of Wall Street and the City of London.
Seven months after taking power, Syriza called a referendum on the issue of whether or not Greece should accept the latest austerity mandates from the Troika. When the votes were tallied, 61 percent of the Greek electorate declared no to further austerity.
Two months later the leaders of the anti-austerity movement were gone, and Tsipras was ready to surrender once again.
In this interview with The Real News Network, one of those leaders talks about those critical events, and the launch of a new party to continue the resistance to the money lord of the North:
Odious Debt and the Betrayal of the Popular Will in Greece
From the transcript:
DIMITRI LASCARIS, TRNN: This is Dimitri Lascaris reporting from Lesbos, Greece, for The Real News.
This week, The Real News is in Lesbos to cover the Crossing Borders Conference on the refugee crisis in the Mediterranean.
This afternoon we’re joined by Zoe Konstantopoulou. Zoe Konstantopoulou is the former speaker of the Greek Parliament. She was elected to that position in February of last year with a record number of votes from her fellow MPs, including, surprisingly, the support of the right-wing New Democracy Party. But her tenure as speaker of the Greek Parliament was short-lived. Her position was vacated in October of last year after the SYRIZA government decided to implement an austerity program that was even more severe than [the one that] over 60 percent of the population of Greece had rejected in a referendum in July of last year.
LASCARIS: Now, last year, after the referendum in which over 60 percent of the Greek population effectively voted to reject an austerity program that was even less severe than what was ultimately implemented, the prime minister, Alexis Tsipras, called a snap election and there was a rebellion of the left wing of the SYRIZA party, and they formed another party called Popular Unity, which I understand you supported in the election that was held in September.
KONSTANTOPOULOU: I cooperated as an independent candidate with Popular Unity.
There’s more, after the jump. . .
LASCARIS: And despite the fact that at least it was widely perceived that the government betrayed the referendum, the party, surprisingly, didn’t manage to achieve a 3 percent threshold of representation in Parliament. What’s your analysis as to why that happened despite the widespread discontent of the government’s neglecting of the referendum result?
KONSTANTOPOULOU: Last year there was clear treason, not just capitulation. And this treason was perpetrated by the very person who had incarnated hope and who had inspired a lot of people to stand up for their lives and for their rights.
I believe it was a calculated coup, not only against democracy, not only against the people, but also against the people’s morale, against their psychology. It was directly targeting the people’s hope, it was directly targeting their self-esteem and their self-confidence.
And it was translated into a record abstention–the highest abstention ever recorded Greece in the last 40 years. Some 48.5 percent of the voters did not even go to vote in September, and another 3 percent casted a null or invalid vote.
So I would say that this was not a surprising result. This was the result aimed at by the creditors and by those who are aiding and abetting them.
On the other hand, when it comes to the effort made by a lot of us not to give up, to fight the fight, to resist to what was happening–and what was happening was clearly a parliamentary and political cleansing: they dismantled the Parliament to do away with everyone who was saying no–our duty was to resist, but it was also evident that this was going to be a very, very hard battle to fight.
So I would say that it was not a surprise that people did not react at the same rhythm, because it was very, very difficult; even for people within the left and within SYRIZA (the previously initialed, the initial SYRIZA, the one which does not exist anymore), it was very difficult to stand on their feet and say, no, we’re still fighting.