“Greece offers a chance for redemption to Europe”

VSIt’s ultimately a small miracle. Despite the historic depression it has experienced, Greece is today a stable, pro-European country. While the American rating agency S&P removed Greece from its status as junk bond (“rotten bond”), that is to say the riskiest category, Friday October 20, symbol of a real start of improvement, the observation deserves to stop there.

Also read our decryption: Article reserved for our subscribers Greece is painfully rebuilding its economy, after fifteen years of depression

The economic shock was exceptional, enough to bring to light the worst darkness in history: the fall in gross domestic product (GDP) of 28% between 2008 and 2016 was of the same magnitude as the American depression of 1929, but it lasted twice as long. Even today, the economy remains 20% below its 2007 level. The population remains largely poorer than it was fifteen years ago, public services, particularly hospitals, are bloodless and half a million inhabitants emigrated.

“If I had told you in 2008 that the economy would plummet like this, that our politics would be approaching the precipice [en flirtant avec la sortie de l’euro]but that society would ultimately hold, it would have been hard to believe”, testifies Dimitri Papalexopoulos, the president of SEV, the Greek employers. Listening to him, the experience of Greece is that of a country which has “tried populism” and who came back. “Today we have one of the first post-populist governmentscontinues Mr. Papalexopoulos. Kyriakos Mitsotakis [l’actuel premier ministre de centre droit] was elected in 2019 on the basis of his competence and re-elected on his competence. »

Crisis, whose fault is it?

This flattering portrait of the leader of the Greek government must be put into perspective. Mr. Mitsotakis was criticized for wiretapping journalists and opponents. A railway tragedy which left 57 dead highlighted a still sclerotic railway administration. His administration coped poorly with fires and floods this summer.

It prevents. In a country that only emerged from dictatorship in 1974, it was not difficult to imagine an alternative scenario, where Greece would have left the euro in 2015 and found itself, a few years later, more or less aligned with Russia or China. None of this happened. Today, to the question “was the crisis the fault of Greece or the European Union (EU)?” “, the vast majority of Greeks respond that their country must first be blamed, even if the excessive rigor imposed by the EU then made things worse. In hindsight, the surge in growth from 2000 to 2008, with public spending and pensions offered in some cases from the age of forty, is recognized by the population as a bubble that could not last.

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