Many Greeks are clearly white-knuckled with anger over the passage of the latest austerity plan. Two years of political and financial torture have revolted ordinary, peaceful Greeks. Some say they have heard enough threats of economic armaggedon.
They say that even if their government is forced to default, it could not be worse than the mess they are living through now. They feel completely powerless.
At least the congregation at a church in central Athens can receive some spiritual relief. But down-to-earth pessimism is the norm.
Outside the church a man said: “Greece is finished. There is no hope. We will be completely destroyed through bankruptcy, and suffer patriotically for about ten years, and then find our way out of this all by ourselves.”
“I don’t know what to say. People are so numb and so scared,” said an Athenian woman. “I really don’t know. I think a huge explosion is needed, an explosion of rage.”
Only a tiny minority of Greeks have taken part in the riots and destruction, but there is a groundswell of anger among those who say that their living standards are already rock bottom, and that more austerity will deepen their misery.
Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos said: “Everyone must realise the dilemma: we either save the country with great sacrifices… or the social, economic and political framework dissolves, and – with our heads held high – we march towards catastrophe.”
Venizelos won the vote, but he and the country’s politicians are collectively reviled, in the public’s mind responsible for the voters’ misfortune.
Unemployment in Greece reached 21 percent in November, and half of young Greeks are jobless – very bad, said an economics professor in Athens, Professor P.E. Petrakis:
“It’s a very depressing situation for Greece. People can’t plan their lives, can’t think about the future. If you don’t think about the future you’re not going to have a future. This is the important thing.”
A government spokesman said an election will be held in April. By then the second round of austerity could drive voters further to the left and right, testing Greece’s commitment to the programme even more.