Greece. The economic crisis continued during the year to
force wages, pensions and jobs to new bottom levels. The
share of unemployed was 25% in November and every day
another 1,000 jobs disappeared. Many people stood outside
the welfare system. They applied for soup kitchens, children
fainted at school due to a nutritional deficiency and many
seriously ill became without medication as the
pharmaceutical companies curtailed the credits to the state
health insurance fund. Many residents found it particularly
difficult to pay their electricity bills because, among
other things, the property tax was collected that way. At
the same time, crime statistics skyrocketed. The number of
burglaries increased as people began to store large sums of
money at home due to mistrust of the banks.
Among the most vulnerable were young people who were
outside the labor market and the elderly, whose pensions had
been cut and whose adult children, often unemployed, could
no longer support them. The number of suicides increased
especially in this group. The desperation also hit hard on
refugees. Several thousands of paperless refugees were
locked up in camps, and the human rights organization
Amnesty International accused Greece of treating them as
criminals. The number of racist hate crimes also increased.
countryaah, the popular dissatisfaction shook the country's
leadership. During the winter and spring, a large number of
MPs jumped off the established parties PASOK (All-Greek
Socialist Movement) and New Democracy (ND, Conservative).
Two new elections became necessary, the first May 6. ND and
PASOK shared the message that the country must continue to
swallow the austere austerity medicine in order for it to be
integrated again into the world economy. Challengers, with
the left-wing Syriza in the lead, said that austerity was
exacerbating the situation by beating consumption. Syrian
manager Alexis Tsipras promised that if he won, he would
break all agreements with the lenders.
ND and Syriza both went forward while PASOK shrank. The
world was shaken by the news that the neo-Nazi party Golden
Dawn took 7% of the vote. ND, Syriza and PASOK failed in
success to form government and a new election was held on
June 17. Both ND and Syriza again advanced strongly; ND took
29.7% of the vote and Syriza 27.9. ND leader Antonis Samaras
was able to form government with the support of PASOK and
the Democratic Left (DIMAR).
At the same time, negotiations were underway between
Greece and the so-called troika, ie the EU, the European
Central Bank (ECB) and the International Monetary Fund
(IMF). On February 21, the eurozone finance ministers gave a
sign of a second and severely conditional rescue package,
worth € 130 billion. Private lenders - i.a. banks, insurance
companies and pension funds - were expected to contribute
another 100 billion euros by reducing part of the debt in
exchange for securing interest payments on remaining loans.
On November 27, the euro area countries gave the go-ahead
for yet another rescue package worth SEK 43.7 billion to be
paid in installments. That grant would allow Greece to buy
back government securities at a discounted price from
private banks. The overarching goal was that by 2020, the
Greek central government's share of GDP would reach 120%,
which many analysts hoped to be unrealistic.
In exchange for the rescue package, the new government
under Samaras pushed through new austerity in parliament,
including a further reduction of the statutory minimum wage
by 20% to EUR 751 per month, a reduction of the public
sector by 150,000 jobs up to 2015, and savings in health
care and an increase in the retirement age from 65 to 67
years. Each partial payment of the rescue package was
conditional on additional austerity measures.
The country's GDP continued to shrink for the fifth
consecutive year. The decrease for 2012 was expected to be
in line with the decrease in 2011, which was 6.9%. In
October, however, the urgent risk of Greece going bankrupt
and forcing the euro to be eliminated was considered.