With all the deafening excitement and blinding confetti in the US beginning to ease we can start to look to other nations once more.
A country demanding attention today is Greece, one of the Eurozone’s most turbulent members.
Yesterday’s nationwide strike brought schools, government offices, banks and public transport to a standstill and an extension of the action is planned for the hours ahead.
The tens of thousands of protestors who lined Greek streets and left the country floundering are directing their fury at Prime Minister Antonis Samaras and the vote regarding a controversial austerity package.
As one union representative was quoted as saying; ‘If lawmakers vote in favour of the measures… they will have committed the biggest ever political and social crime against the country and the people. We won’t let them destroy the country’.
The union members are claiming that the wealthy will dodge the hardships of the proposed measures, which include slashing wages and hiking taxes, whilst the poor will be hit hard.
They also assert that the recession, which has already dragged on for five years, will be lengthened if the measures are approved. The unions involved in the strikes have the support of the leftist opposition.
One unemployed protestor described the present situation in the following terms: ‘They’ve taken everything we have – our money, our jobs, our lives – and they won’t stop until they’ve finished us off to satisfy the Europeans. They make me sick. Enough, enough, enough!’
However, defenders of the austerity outline are arguing that if the policies aren’t implemented Greece will be denied the International Monetary Fund/European Union bailout funds it sorely needs.
The Eurogroup Chairman of Eurozone finance ministers Jean Claude Junker has asserted: ‘Our Greek friends have no options or choice [but to approve the austerity measures]. They have to do it. And my impression is that the reforms which are [being] undertaken in Greece are increasingly better understood by the Greek citizens.’
The Greek citizens may understand the reforms better but if the current protests are anything to go by that clearly doesn’t mean that they like or approve them.
If the government defies the protestors and votes yes they will lose the support of the population but Greece will secure the financial backing needed to bolster banks and meet debt commitments. If a no vote wins out an already fragile government could shatter irreparably.
As of 10:00 am
The Pound to Euro exchange rate is currently trading at 1.2467
The Pound to US Dollar exchange rate is currently trading at 1.6008
The Pound to Australian Dollar exchange rate is currently trading at 1.5304
The Euro to US Dollar exchange rate is currently trading at 1.2838
The Euro to Pound exchange rate is currently trading at 0.8018
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