Greek colonels’ coup to impose austerity?

This video is about the Greek junta time (1967-1974) and composer Theodorakis.

By Peter Schwarz:

Coup fears in Greece over referendum plan

2 November 2011

Prime Minister George Papandreou sacked the Greek military high command Tuesday. The move came amid furor on the part of world governments and international financial markets over his proposal to submit a European Union bailout plan that spells years of punishing austerity for Greek workers to a popular referendum.

The Greek defense ministry issued a terse emailed statement that Papandreou had dismissed his chief of national defense, the Greek Army general staff chief, the heads of the Air Force and the Navy, along with 12 other senior officers.

The announcement fueled rumors in Greece of an impending military coup. These fears are founded on an understanding that the drastic cuts in employment, living standards and essential social services that have been demanded by Europe’s ruling elites as the price for a partial relief of the country’s debt burden cannot be imposed by democratic means.

If a coup is threatened, it is undoubtedly not merely a matter of domestic tensions. Rather it would stem from decisions taken in Berlin, Paris, Washington and NATO that the interests of finance capital require a Pinochet-style solution to the problems in imposing the decisions of the EU on a resisting Greek working class.

Fresh from its bloody success in Libya, NATO may well be preparing another exercise in “regime change,” this time in one of its own member states.

Reaction by world governments to Papandreou’s referendum announcement have been characterized by unconcealed anger and dismay. French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel have summoned Papandreou to Cannes for emergency talks in advance of the G20 summit there.

The Financial Times of London Tuesday quoted a former PASOK cabinet minister as warning in relation to the Cannes talks, “That could be a dangerous absence on the part of the prime minister.”

Papandreou’s grandfather, Georgios Papandreou, who was also prime minister, was forced out of office and then died under house arrest following a 1967 military coup. That coup brought to power a repressive junta that ruled the country until 1974, implementing wholesale repression, outlawing political parties and unions and carrying out mass arrests and systematic torture.

The Greek crisis deepened Monday night after Papandreou announced his proposal for a referendum on the so-called financial rescue plan adopted by the European heads of state and government in Brussels on October 26. His announcement came as a surprise to the Greek public as well as to the governments of the other European Union countries.

The referendum calls into question the decisions taken by the Brussels summit after weeks of fierce disputes. These decisions include a 50-percent “haircut”, or write-down, on Greek debt held by European banks, sustained harsh austerity measures and strict control of the Greek budget by the EU.

Should the Greek electorate decide against the summit decisions, this would most likely lead to the exit of Greece from the common currency and probably to the collapse of the euro.

The mere prospect that the Greek people could have a say on the summit decisions and the brutal austerity that these measures will entail for them led to a sharp fall on world financial markets Tuesday. Stock prices declined all over Europe. The German DAX fell by 5 percent, and some major European banks lost more than ten percent of their share value. The euro declined as well. In the US, the Dow Jones industrial average fell by nearly 300 points.

Justifying his decision Tuesday, Papandreou said: “Citizens are the source of our strength. Citizens will be called upon to say a big ‘yes’ or a big ‘no’ to the new loan arrangement. This is a supreme act of democracy and of patriotism for the people to make their own decision. We’ve faith in the people. We believe in democratic participation. We’re not afraid of it.”

Given that Papandreou has imposed one austerity package after another against fierce popular resistance over the last two years, his sudden commitment to democratic participation rings hollow to say the least.

Papandreou has obviously reached the conclusion that he can only continue his disastrous austerity policy by taking a major risk.

The austerity measures of the last two years have decimated the living standards of broad sections of the Greek population. Resistance has grown accordingly. Last month, hundreds of thousands participated in a two-day general strike called by the unions, which feared that they would lose control. As head of government, Papandreou has hardly any support. In parliament his majority has shrunk to two votes.

The anger over the austerity measures is so deep that many PASOK MPs no longer dare to appear in public. “We can’t even leave our homes to go to a taverna any more,” the Guardian quotes an anonymous MP of the governing party as saying. “You’re called a pig or a traitor for passing measures none of us wanted to pass. It’s not a life.”

Up to now, the conservative New Democracy (ND) party has refused to support Papandreou’s policies, even though it has come under considerable pressure from other conservative parties in Europe to do so. Instead, the ND is attempting to exploit the crisis in order to replace the PASOK government.

Furious eurozone leaders demanded “an explanation” from Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou over his decision to offer ordinary people a referendum on the EU bailout deal when he arrived in Cannes today: here.

The International Labour Organization’s report on global unemployment, released Monday, paints a stark picture of world capitalism: here.

Economic growth has slowed and unemployment has soared in Spain, raising fears that the euro zone’s fourth largest economy is in danger of a full-scale debt crisis: here.

In response to increased pressure from the European Union, Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi submitted to Brussels last Wednesday a “letter of intent” outlining proposals for so-called “structural reforms for growth.” The plan amounts to the obliteration of hard-fought gains earned by workers in the postwar period through bitter struggles: here.

The Sri Lankan government presented its 2012 budgetary estimates to parliament on October 18, unveiling a nearly 7 percent increase in military expenditure. The boost to already high levels of defence spending indicates that the government, facing a deep financial crisis, is preparing for violent confrontations with working people: here.

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