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From the Editor's Desk
Greeks go to the polls
Despite the arguments they may have from time to time, it's more than certain that Antonis Samaras of the New Democracy liberal party and Evangelos Venizelos of the PASOK social democratic party will be joining forces after the May 6 election to form the next Government.
Already, Mr Venizelos has made it clear that "the people do not want a one party solution" adding also that "we don't simply need a parliamentary majority, we need political legitimacy".
When asked what is the percentage that will ensure "political legitimacy", Mr Venizelos said there is a need for a decisive and large majority. "To achieve that, our two parties (PASOK and New Democracy) will not be enough", he said.
According to reports from Athens, soon after Sunday's election there will be a new barrage of EU and IMF imposed austerity measures that will see further cuts to wages, pensions and public services and new hikes in taxes, government levies, public transport fares etc.
It was interesting by the way, to read our former Foreign Minister Alexander Downer's answer to the European economic crisis, in his column in Adelaide's Advertiser (30 April 2012). "In the long term, the whole European model will have to be reworked. Governments just can't keep spending more and more on welfare and health. So-called free health will have to come to an end and only the needy will be eligible for handouts. Pensions will have to be contributory", he wrote and added that "the greatest challenge of all of Europe will be to find the leaders who will do these things".
For the last few years the two main Greek parties have certainly been pursuing policies on a similar path as suggested by Mr Downer. They haven't had any joy at all. The debt is rising sharply, the poverty is growing rapidly, public anger is boiling dangerously and no government lasts for more than a year or two. The vote of the main two parties has diminished to a combined 30% while the rest of the electorate is fragmented to a number of other parties which range from the communist party to the extreme right wing neo-Nazis.
Although we don't expect any positive outcome at the forth coming election, we are confident that the people of Greece will work things out eventually.
As for us here, hopefully we'll get the correct message from what's happening in Europe and avoid similar mistakes in Australia. Cutting health, welfare and pensions is a recipe for social disaster.
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