Feelings of Hope for Greece
By MATTHEW SWICKLE
On January 26th, 2015, the citizens of Greece watched in anticipation as Alexis Tsipras was sworn in as their new Prime Minister. In attaining this highly coveted position, Tsipras has inherited a fiscally destroyed and spiritually disheartened Greece, that is drowning in debt, unemployment, and pressure from Eurozone nations.
Between the years 2007 and 2009, an economic crisis struck Greece and rippled throughout the Eurozone. It was brought about by a phenomenon in which credit rating agencies downgrade the value of government debt. For Greece, this crisis made private capital markets practically nonexistent as a source of funding which, in effect, severely crippled the government and perpetuated years of economic despair. Since the outbreak of the crisis, Eurozone nations have tried to improve the situation by funneling hundreds of billions of dollars to bail out Greece’s government. In addition, they have implemented austerity measures which are plans to reduce budget deficit using a combination of tax increases and spending cuts. Greece’s previous parliament cut pensions and welfare, fired countless public sector employees, and refused to budge on the minimum wage in an effort to conserve government funds. Yet efforts have failed.
Once sworn into office, Tsipras aimed to abandon these poor rehabilitative measures his predecessors had resorted to. Tsipras is also looking to challenge the failed austerity measures by appealing to creditors to forgive Greece’s debts without requiring consideration in return. Though this new front for change has received resistance from investors, much of Greece has reveled in the Prime Minister’s enthusiasm, youth, energy, and promise. Thousands of Greeks have held rallies outside parliament in Athens preaching freedom and opportunity in support of the new anti-austerity government.
The novel approaches of the government and the people have the potential to spark honest and constructive change for a country desperately in need of progress. As this new and exciting era begins in Greece, there is a pervasive and contagious feeling of hope, and it appears that the light at the end of this long and treacherous tunnel is gradually emerging.