The honeymoon is officially over in Greece for the Syriza socialist saviors who, after a series of dramatic pledges to free Greeks from the bonds of austerity have been forced to abandon the very promises which got them elected as the "institutions" (no one is allowed to speak of the "troika" any longer) have refused to budge on demands that Athens institute serious fiscal reforms.
Now, with time running dangerously short, and with looming payments to the IMF and to public sector employees and pensioners, the people are growing restless.
In today's protest, perhaps just as much to celebrate the arrival of spring, 4,000 miners demonstrated in Athens against job cuts they fear will result from the hard-left government's opposition to continued exploitation of their gold mine in northern Greece.
According to AP, "scores of buses transported miners from the Halkidiki region of Greece – about 600 kilometers (370 miles) north of Athens – to protest the SYRIZA-led government's decision last month to review the concession granted to the mines Canadian operator, Eldorado Gold.
Though the mine represents one of the biggest foreign investments projects in Greece today, the government opposes further operation of the mine amid environmental and legal questions surrounding the concession.
A harbinger of more anger at the "radical leftist" government? The march represents one of the biggest labor protests since SYRIZA took power in January on promises of throwing off austerity and using public spending to spark economic growth.
The mine is located in a wooded area near the Mount Athos tourist destination. It has long been the source of repeated clashes between police and environmentalists backed by local residents, who claim the mine poses an ecological threat.
Opponents also denounce the financial terms of the concession granted by previous governments to Eldorado Gold – objections the SYRIZA cabinet shares as it reviews the contract.
But the thousands of miners who descended on Athens Thursday to march by government ministries and parliament warned that putting the mines future into question will lead to mass job cuts.
They noted that in a nation suffering 25.7 percent unemployment – the highest level in the European Union – Greece can scarcely risk provoking new job losses by meddling with the mines operation.
“The honeymoon is over” said Nikos Marantzidis, a pollster and political science professor at the University of Macedonia as Bloomberg reported earlier. “This doesn’t mean that Syriza’s hegemony is under dispute but we’re done with the period when Greek public opinion would agree with everything that the government does.”
The public opinion is only going to get uglier as the government is forced to do whatever the Troika demands.
Meanwhile, as miners shouted anti-government slogans outside the parliament, victims of terrorist attacks protested inside the building against a bill submitted by the justice ministry that would pave the way for the release of a convicted assassin from prison.
Savvas Xiros, who has been sentenced to life imprisonment for killing five people as a member of the guerrilla group November 17, may spend the rest of his sentence detained at home if the bill allowing prisoners with severe disabilities to exit jail under certain restrictions passes. Xiros was maimed after a bomb he was about to plant in 2002 exploded in his arms.
“The case of Xiros would be irrelevant in itself,” Marantzidis said. “But in conjunction with other moves, it reinforces the perception that the government is soft on crime.”
In other words, things are now fully back to normal in Greece.
...and some additional visuals...
?????????... pic.twitter.com/FIdviPlJ2a— Makis Sinodinos (@MakisSinodinos) April 16, 2015
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— Makis Sinodinos (@MakisSinodinos) April 16, 2015
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And if you think it's bad now, here's what's coming (Via Capital Economics):
Greece may resort... to IOUs to pay public sector workers and pensioners and free up money to repay its debts. But this could cause economic chaos if fears that the IOUs would never be paid sparked riots or public sector employees simply refused to work.