Under cover of the pandemic, Greece’s right-wing government has passed a slew of new measures to benefit the wealthy at the expense of workers, while massively expanding police powers. On the back of a decade of austerity, the latest laws are set to transform the country into a client state and playground for foreign tourists.
by Matthaios Tsimitakis/Mihalis Panayiotakis
When New Democracy, Greece’s conservative ruling party, won the July 2019 elections following a decade-long austerity crisis, it did so on a ticket promising tax relief, growth, law and order, and nationalism, but also on reassurances of social inclusion.
Its leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis, a Harvard-educated scion of one of Greece’s most prominent political families, promised to lead Greece out of the “stagnation” of the Syriza years, deal with the refugee crisis, assert Greece’s position on the international stage, and introduce technocratic governance following five years of “populist mismanagement.”
Due to his party’s central role in the economic disaster of the past decade, it was a tough sell. But the fact that the Syriza government had itself bowed to pressure from the troika and imposed its own round of austerity helped New Democracy’s case. With all of the mainstream media falling in line behind the campaign, the party won a clear majority.
New Democracy’s agenda always promised to be a conservative one, but in the national context of culminating crises wrought by the pandemic, the true nature of Mitsotakis’s program has been revealed as a blitzkrieg of cronyism and neoliberal shock therapy.