It looks like I have chosen an interesting time to move to Greece! With the general election sweeping out the old order and ushering in the new, there is a strange mix of hope and uncertainty in the air. Can the anti-austerity party Syriza deliver on their promises? Will Greece default on debt payments if they can't renegotiate them? If they do, will they be forced out of the Euro and revert back to the Drachma? More importantly (from a completely selfish point of view), what does this mean for one Dave Briggs and his plans to move to Greece in a couple of weeks time?!?
An Interesting Time To Move To Greece
Well, the honest answer to all the questions above, is that nothing is going to change within the next couple of months at least. Even if Syriza are capable of keeping some of their election promises such as restoring the minimum monthly wage to 750 Euro, reconnecting the tens of thousands of people who have been cut off from their electricity supplies due to non-payment, or re-employing public sector workers who were made redundant due to austerity cutbacks, it's not going to happen overnight. Because basically, if someone could have waved a magic wand and fixed it overnight, they would have done it long ago. Therefore, life goes on for the next few months much as it has done the previous years – Low wages, high unemployment etc etc. The country is broken, and it needs fixing. At least now there is hope in the minds and hearts of those that voted for Syriza. (And if life goes on as it does for a few months, then really, none of this affects at all the immediate plans of one Dave Briggs to move to Greece).
Its after that initial couple of months that things might start to change though, and why it will be such an interesting time to move to Greece. The reason for this, is that things are going to come to a head one way or the other. Either the new Greek government will have to somehow renegotiate the conditions of its bale out with the EU, or default on its promises to its voters. Neither option is going to end well, and while I by no means proclaim to be an expert on the situation, I will put it is simply as I can.
Greece, along with Spain, Portugal and Italy joined the Euro when perhaps they shouldn't, as their economies and outlooks on running a country are fundamentally different to their northern colleagues such as Germany, Holland and France. Inevitably, they ended up funding a lifestyle they couldn't afford, but whereas in the past they could make moves to devalue their currency, in the Euro they couldn't. Add in a banking crisis and global recession, and disaster struck. The only way Greece could get out of the hole it was in, was to accept loans on a massive scale, but of course, those loans came with a series of conditions. The Greek government at the time accepted those conditions as the lesser of two evils, and thus the years of austerity in Greece began.
Fast forward to today, and those conditions have almost brought Greece to its knees. Unemployment is high, the young and educated are leaving the country in droves, and the economy has drastically contracted. It's not difficult to see why Syriza were elected with their anti-austerity campaign, and why they want to renegotiate the deal. The question is, will Germany and the rest of the EU allow this, or would they be prepared to see Greece default and leave the Euro? If they can't renegotiate, where does that leave Syriza with the people that voted them in? This is the soap opera that is Greek politics, and why it is such a fascinating time to move to Greece.