GREEK TRAGEDY – AT 11:40 A.M. ET: Greece also votes in national elections today, and, as with France, these elections can have a profound effect on the European economy and eventually on ours. The Greeks are angry, for good reason. From The New York Times:
ATHENS — Greeks voted on Sunday in parliamentary elections that are expected to be the most pivotal in the country’s modern history, determining not only its future in Europe but its prospects for recovery from a devastating debt crisis.
Voters are expected to send a message to the traditional governing parties, the Socialists and the right-center New Democracy, which are being blamed for the country’s economic woes.
Sunday’s outcome, both here and in France, could resonate far beyond the Continent, possibly triggering fresh upheaval in the euro zone.
The next government in Athens, amid a deepening recession and facing likely social unrest, will have to enforce a loan agreement with its creditors, which stipulates slashing $15.5 billion from the state budget over the next two years and completing a crucial bank recapitalization.
Yet fierce opposition to the bailout terms — tax increases and wage cuts that have seen Greece’s gross national product drop 20 percent since 2009 and unemployment hit 21 percent — has led to the implosion of the Socialists and New Democracy parties, and the rise of fringe parties on both the right and the left that oppose the loan deal.
Anger at the wage and pension cuts imposed by the two main parties, who ruled in an uneasy coalition after the previous socialist administration collapsed in November, was evidence Sunday at a polling station in Neos Kosmos, a middle-class district near central Athens. Evgenia Vogiatzi, a 45-year-old teacher and lifelong socialist, said that Greece was “in a state of enslavement” that had led her to support the Communist Party, which backs a return to the drachma.
“I’ve had my salary cut 30 percent, I’m paying taxes through the nose, and they’re talking about more cuts,” Ms. Vogiatzi said. “If that’s what it takes to stay in Europe, I don’t want Europe.”
COMMENT: Add that to today's French election, and we have a whole load of grief. The way ahead economically will be difficult, and we need a drastic change in American leadership to find our way successfully.
May 6, 2012