In Greece, anger now goes beyond the train accident.


Demonstrators hold signs referring to Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, crossed out with a cross, after the deadliest train disaster in the country's history, in Athens on March 16, 2023.

More than 40,000 people demonstrated again on Thursday 16 March in Greece, more than two weeks after the train disaster that claimed 57 lives. Yiorgos Vassalos, professor at the Institute of Political Studies in Lille, explains the current mobilization of the Greeks through the ongoing destruction of public services and describes the country’s role Towards a form of tyranny.

How do you explain that the anger of the Greeks does not subside?

This railway accident, which could have been avoided if safety measures had been taken and if more personnel had been involved, is the final straw. It is the deadliest railway accident the country has ever seen, and everyone in Greece took this line one day, as it is one of the only railways operating in the country. But now the anger goes beyond that. It is an expression of weariness with the decline of the public sector that had already begun during the economic crisis (2010-2018) and against which the Conservative government did not fight during its tenure.

When did this destruction of public services return?

as a condition for ” Rescue “ In Greece, starting in 2010, the country’s creditors (the European Union, the European Central Bank, the International Monetary Fund), in exchange for loans, imposed very harsh austerity measures, in particular reducing the number of civil servants and cutting the budget. More than 180,000 public sector jobs have been lost, which translates into a shortage of essential services such as firefighters, hospitals and schools. The management company of the Greek public railway network (OSE) has only about 700 employees while, according to personnel and union representatives, there should be 2,500. During the devastating fires of Mati, in 2018, or on the island of Evia, in 2021 and the lack of equipment and personnel to put out the fires destructive.

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Under the Mitsotakis government, with the loosening of the fiscal grip, nothing was done to strengthen these public services, which had suffered. The Covid-19 pandemic provided an example of this situation. During the first wave, Greece was affected little, mainly due to its geographical location. But the hospital budget was not increased, and the following waves were managed less well. In the end, per capita deaths were among the highest in Europe.

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