Ever since WWII and the Greek Civil War (1946-49), there has been a division in Greek society; the pro-Russians versus the pro-West, the communists versus the right-wingers, the “neo-liberals” versus the socialists. During the years of prosperity, from the ’80s until the crisis of 2008, this division was limited to bar brawls and the waving of different flags during election campaigns.
Fast forward to today. Every attempt at closing a deal between the Greek government and its European partners has failed. To make things worse, in the first hours of Saturday, the Greek prime minister declared a referendum over a proposal that the partners had already revoked. Withing one week, the Greek people will be called to vote for what really is a question of the country’s membership in the European Union. As the prime minister made his speech, thousands of Greeks ran to their nearest cash machine to withraw any money they had left in their banks.
It is uncertain what the Greek people will decide. What is certain is the struggle that lies ahead. Even if they do decide to stay in the eurozone and the EU, and even if there is an 11th-hour agreement, the economic plunge will be so deep that it will be almost impossible to emerge from it.
Banks’ coffers are nearly empty and what lies ahead are bank holidays and strict capital controls. The existing bailout program ends on the 30th of June. Not only will the country have to pay 1.5 billion euros to the IMF by that date, it’s also the day that most salaries are due. Thousands of people will be left unpaid, or will only be permitted to withdraw 60 euros per day, as it is rumored.