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Greece requires political reform as much as structural reform of its economy

Tsekeris, C. (2015) “Greece requires political reform as much as structural reform of its economy“, LSE EUROPP, 07 April.


The Greek government and its creditors have still not reached an agreement on the release of further financial assistance to the country, despite fears growing over the state of Greece’s finances ahead of a scheduled loan repayment to the IMF on 9 April. Charalambos Tsekeris writes that while the discussions have focused on a package of reforms that must be approved by the country’s creditors before assistance is released, the nature of the Greek problem goes further than mere fiscal and economic concerns. He argues that many of the issues faced in Greece are fundamentally political and that reforms should go beyond the present narrow focus on competitiveness.

Greece is a country marked by growing inequalities, poverty, destitution, staggering unemployment levels and intense uncertainty as to its future direction. The severe economic recession that hit Greece has had significant negative consequences for the vast majority of the population, particularly economically vulnerable groups, and has weakened the welfare state and social cohesion.

Many observers have come to the conclusion that the powerful political networks that flourished in Greece after the fall of the Greek military junta are now no longer functional. This is either due to the country’s economic situation, which has led to the de facto loss of pre-crisis benefits for members of these networks, or because of the collapse of the social underpinnings that allowed such actors to hold power (e.g. the widespread loss of trust in the political establishment). Both of these elements have reinforced one another.

Following Syriza’s rise to power in January, Greece has exhibited the hallmarks of a country in transition. The on-going standoff between the country and its European creditors is a direct result of the preference of Greek voters to break with the policies backed by the so called ‘troika’. Yet the policies backed by Syriza have posed a challenge to Europe’s status quo. The standoff could yet provoke turmoil and volatility, at least for a while, in European and global politics, albeit Syriza still proclaims to have a European orientation.


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