Saturday 16 June 2012


Rage – Goddess, sing the rage of Peleus’ son Achilles,
murderous, doomed, that cost the Achaeans countless losses
hurling down to the House of Death so many sturdy souls,
great fighters’ souls, but made their bodies carrion,
feasts for the dogs and birds,
and the will of Zeus was moving toward its end.

The Iliad, translated by Robert Fagles

Reading the immortal opening lines of The Iliad, I understand why so many voters in Greece will cast their votes tomorrow for SYRIZA.

In contrast to the May 6th election, the majority of people I know who have shared their electoral preference with me will vote for SYRIZA. These are people with multiple university degrees and serious work experience in Greece and abroad.

Why? Quite simply, the reason is rage.

There is rage at the political and economic elite of Greece, who for thirty years has pillaged the country, and now claims to be its saviour. New Democracy’s electoral position of “vote for us and the Euro, or for bankruptcy and the drachma”, is rank hypocrisy. It was New Democracy’s policies between 2004 and 2009 which led to Greece’s financial collapse. Many of the same people in the Karamanlis governments from this time remain in New Democracy, and are now vying for election.

There is rage at the fact that the mix of policies advocated by the Troika has failed the Greek people so miserably. As long as austerity was restricted to the public sector, it was bearable. But the Troika’s demand to end collective bargaining agreements and reduce the minimum wage has catapulted millions of private sector workers into wage slavery in a country where labour laws have never been properly enforced. Given that neither bank loans nor rents nor cost of living has been “devalued” in line with wages, one wonders exactly how this policy of impoverishment was supposed to work.

There is rage at the fact that Greece has been forced into a series of false choices by its European partners, and then condemned as being lazy and feckless by those same partners. Every Greek knows the story of defective German submarines and the bribes given to Greek politicians for these. Every Greek knows of Germany and France’s insistence to sell frigates, planes and tanks to Greece as a condition of the first bail-out. 

There is rage at the fact that Greece was lent money at 5% in the first bailout by France and Germany to refinance French and German banks at face value, at a time when these same discounted Greek bonds by 30-40%. 

There is rage at the fact that the ECB has lent banks EUR 1 trillion at 1%, so that these same banks can buy government bonds at 6%, while credit in the domestic market has evaporated, and many of these same banks are shorting both Greece and the Euro.

The results will be clear on Sunday evening. But whichever party is elected, it is difficult to see how the shining promises of European solidarity and a common future can be restored after what has happened—and continues to happen—in this country. 

© Philip Ammerman, 2012

Philip Ammerman is Managing Partner of Navigator Consulting Group and European Consulting Network. He works in the field of investment management and due diligence in Europe, the former Soviet Union, and the Middle East.


  1. I agree wholeheartedly and, in fact, was moved to write in my own blog about this very subject.

    I'm also enraged, and I'm not a Greek citizen - so I get it, unfortunately!

    1. Harolynne, please post your blog entry here. It would be interesting for everyone to read.

  2. Once again Philip, I agree.
    It irritates me that I need to vote for the same guys that destroyed the country now to save it.
    It smacks of a protection racket to me.
    New Democracy didn't even have the decency of presenting us with a new slate of candidates to vote for - same old crooks and cronies.

    1. This is really the main insult - the candidates. I can't imagine how anyone would want to vote for this party--even ignoring the shameless "triangulation" of its policies, which have not been costed--when you see who's slated for Minister of Education or other critical positions.

      I have heard ND politicians say that "we have done our self-criticism" ('εχουμε κάνει την αυτοκριτική μας). But self-criticism is hardly enough to compensate for the tremendous fiscal disaster left behind on October 2009. Together with the fact that ND itself owes over EUR 100,000,000 in loans that it has taken guaranteed against future public revenue, I find it impossible to understand how this party is supposed to solve the economic problems of the country.

      And all this is without taking into account the role of Antonis Samaras, who is hardly a unifying figure, and whose political decisions between 2010 and the present time reveal a series of tactical errors, admittedly in a difficult or non-usual political environment.

      Definitely not an easy decision today.