If one were to say that this is the first time there have been frenzied pledges of handouts one could fairly be accused of cheap opposition.
Rampant pledges ahead of elections are a familiar feature of Greek politics. However, it is the first time that they are advertised as left-wing.
The aim of the SYRIZA-Independent Greeks government is clear. It wants to win over as many social groups and strata as possible so as to avert an electoral trouncing. That is why it made the return of benefits that had been cut (ordered by the judiciary) and the avoidance of pension cuts its banner. Indeed, it attempted to exploit that “success” in order to attack the opposition and reap petty partisan gains.
Of course, no one would like fresh, horizontal pension cuts, but there are no money trees. The government is taking the money it will put in the pockets on pensioners and uniformed officers from some other pockets.
In order to reach a 3.9 percent primary surplus, the government has over-taxed the middle class. The distribution of hundreds of millions of euros in handouts is depriving the Public Investment Programme of funding.
Growth and reforms are being sacrificed for the sake of elections. That is the underlying reality of the budget that was tabled in parliament yesterday. The European Commission approved it because it wants to swiftly close the Greek front. However, it also underlined delays in implementing reforms, stressing that agreed structural reforms must be implemented in order for agreed debt relief measures to be activated.
Hence, there is no cause for celebration. As the Hellenic Federation of Enterprises (SEV) has noted, there is a serious danger of the economy becoming entrapped in a quagmire. Greece, however, does not have the luxury of wasting any more time.