Only in a country as broken as Greece can you lead a news story like this.
In a turbulent 24 hours for Greece, anti-fascist protests became violent, an army website demanded the resignation of the government, and an official admitted they planted wire taps in the communications of a neo-Nazi political party.The British thinktank Demos says no nation has backslide in democracy more than Greece.
The report was released as the fragile two-party coalition of the prime minister, Antonis Samaras, admitted it was worried by a call for a military coup posted overnight on Wednesday on the website of the Special Forces Reserve Union. "It must worry us," said a government spokesman, Simos Kedikoglou.
Maybe the post on the Special Forces web site means nothing, but in a nation where the unemployment has fallen to 27.1%, the government knows that it won't have any popular support if some small group tries to overthrow it. It's bent over backwards too many times for foreign creditors to pretend that it still represents the people it is supposed to be representing.
Greece experienced a military, fascist government as recently as 1974.
The neo-Nazi Golden Dawn, the third most popular political party, is considering walking out of parliament in order to force an early election.
The protesters voiced their anger over a government plan to fire 15,000 civil servants by the end of 2014, with 4,000 of them already having to go in the course of this year. The harsh measure was foisted upon Athens by international creditors who had kept the debt-stricken southern European nation afloat with bailout tranches totaling more than 240 billion euros ($323.8 billion).Despite multiple rounds of austerity and bailouts, Greece is no closer to being solvent. A third round of bailouts is being prepared even now.
If the Greek economy keeps contracting, it doesn't matter how many austerity measures the increasingly unpopular government pushes through, they will never be able to afford to pay their debts. The only thing that will work is writing off much of those debts, but the EU has said that debt forgiveness is off the table.
Instead, the EU is forcing through the one measure that has kept the Greek depression from biting the hardest: foreclosures.
One obstacle is a five-year ban on foreclosures that prevented thousands of Greeks from losing their homes after the economy went into free-fall. The government is now considering a plan to ease the restrictions by the end of this year to satisfy its creditors’ demands. Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras said last month that banks face serious problems if they’re not allowed to repossess and auction homes of people who don’t pay their mortgages.With an unemployment rate of over 27%, a sudden surge of backlogged foreclosures (the rate of delinquencies on mortgages was 19.1 percent in 2012) should crash housing prices.
Now that credit has tightened, Kalapotharakou says the banks would gain little from seizing homes from borrowers, which would fetch a fraction of the outstanding debt in an auction. Meanwhile, those losing their properties will still owe the money that’s not covered by the sale proceeds, she says.A crash in housing prices won't help the bank balance sheets, nor help tax revenue. But the foreclosures will force thousands of people onto the streets and further destabilize the nation.
“Not all circumstances are right for liberalizing markets,” she said. “If you free up houses, you will see a collapse in the housing market. Who’s going to buy?”
The cradle of democracy might be about to see it die.
Savage cuts to the Greek health service have seen the country's HIV and Tuberculosis rates soar - sparking fears it is becoming a third world nation.
Aid agencies said the cutting of hospital budgets by an astonishing 40 per cent had also led to a sharp rise in the number of citizens being diagnosed with Malaria.
In the south, they said, it is reaching near endemic levels not seen since 1970s.
The scrapping of needle exchange services has seen the number of HIV and Aids sufferers in central Athens rise by 1,250 per cent in 2011 alone.
The Portuguese economy is still shrinking, and the government has indicated it may not fulfill its deficit goals. In order to try to pay back its bailout loans, Lisbon hiked taxes. The tax burden for some Portuguese has doubled. Unemployment is pushing a record 17 percent. Poverty is on the rise.The Portuguese are returning to subsistance farming.
Spain's economy appears to have finally bottomed out, however more austerity is ahead.
was described as a murderous attack – and the most serious violence since the extremist group was elected to the country's parliament last year – about 50 men wielding crowbars and bats set upon leftists as they distributed posters in a working-class district of the capital late on Thursday.Recall that the Nazis in Germany started with deadly brawling with communists in the streets. The very first people in concentration camps weren't Jews, they were communists.
But the real money quote is this:
With prominent clerics also voicing support for the group, commentators have begun to ask whether the ruling conservatives should join forces with Golden Dawn, whose views on issues of public order are strikingly similar.The Nazis in Germany took power because conservatives in the leadership backed them, not because they won the elections. The conservatives in Germany thought that they could control the Nazis.