The austerity effect
Greece, since 2009 is undergoing a period of heavy and deep economic crisis. In 2010, the then Greek government turned for help to the E.U. the I.M.F. and the E.C.B with the agreement that the financial rescue packages to prevent the country from bankruptcy will be inextricably linked with severe austerity measures.
The inability of the governments so far to handle the crisis with substantial reforms, have resulted in more economic rescue packages and in more austerity measures. But the most important thing is that it has managed to make Greek people experiencing probably the worst situation they have been found in after the IIWW.
Twenty percent of the Greek population now lives below the poverty line; the middle class is almost extinct due to the high taxation and unemployment hits record levels with that of young people (15-24) to reach 60%. In 2011, according to the NGO "KLIMAKA", occurred the largest number of suicides (477) for the last 50 years in Greece and the number of homelessness has greatly increased, reaching unprecedented levels when speaking of a country with one of the highest rates of home ownership in the world (71%). Adding the migration problem, layoffs in the public sector, closed shops and a welfare state which is now nonexistent, someone can easily understand why in central Athens, have been occurred some of the most massive demonstrations which often ending with violent clashes with the police.
Athens amid crisis is a city dull and miserable and for someone who knew Athens or who had visited the city before, walking on its streets again will see that is no longer the same city he used to know.
The destroyed facade of the mall "Attica", aftermath of the wild clashes between demonstrators and riot police during a 48 hour strike in Athens.
Due to increased austerity measures taken by recent governments in Greece, protests in Athens and other major cities of the country are almost a daily phenomenon. Powerful police forces fill the streets of Athens during the major demonstrations where most of the times are ending under the brutal repression of riot police and the extensive use of chemicals.
The increased and by many people not fairly apportioned taxation, the lack of welfare state, the price increase in goods in connection with the rapid decrease in salaries and pensions as well as unemployment, have brought many families to the edge not being able to ensure even the highly necessary such as food and medical coverage. Small and medium-sized stores were among the first hit by the crisis in Greece leading many of them to close down.
One of the groups that have been heavily hit by the economic crisis is the pensioners. The continuous reduction of pensions as well as the increased austerity measures has forced the majority of pensioners to live under the poverty line, often being unable to pay the bills as well as to ensure their daily food and their medical needs.
A man is reading his newspaper just outside his store in an arcade next to Omonia square in Athens. Most of the arcades around Omonia square have been deserted and the stores have been closed down.
A closed café at the center of Athens.
The number of homelessness in Greece has greatly increased over the last three years, reaching unprecedented levels when speaking of a country with one of the highest rates of home ownership in the world (71%).
Uncertainty, anger and the willingness of the Greeks to punish the major parties in Greece has made more and more people turned to nationalism bringing the far-right party Golden Dawn in third place in the polls.
A man is walking out of a super market at Patission Street, an area that most of its inhabitants are now immigrants. Immigrants in Greece are confronted by several problems. Not having papers to travel to countries they wish for, they remain trapped in a hostile environment for them, since many times they are subject to police violence and arbitrariness as well as attacks against them by far-right groups and members of the Golden Dawn party. Failure in finding work is forcing many of them to live on the margins of society and impoverishment.
Unemployment in Greece has taken enormous proportions in recent years, with people to remain registered in the Manpower Employment Organization as unemployed for more than three years having no income since the state gives allowance only for one year. According to the Greek Statistical Authority, unemployment in Greece in the first quarter of 2013 is 27,4% while the highest unemployment rate occurs among young people aged 15 - 24 years old (60.0%).
Sakis Kakoliris (24) a taxi driver. Sakis took a loan from the bank three years ago to buy the license for his taxi. “Whatever money I used to earn in an afternoon, now I have to work all day long to achieve those revenues” Sakis says. He believes that this is because 60% - 70% of his customers were civil servants and pensioners, social groups affected extensively by the economic crisis in Greece. Now he is satisfied if he managed to earn just the fixed costs of his taxi.
Mismanagement in economic and organizational level has brought public transportation in Greece to a breaking point. Increases in tickets, reduce and merging routes as well as staff layoffs are some of the solutions of the Greek government but without the expected result.
A man with an E.U. flag on his shoulders during the end of the main pre-election speech of the leader of the conservative party New Democracy and former PM of Greece Antonis Samaras in Athens, Greece on January 23rd of 2015. On the 25th of January 2015 Greeks voted for the parliamentary elections and for the first time in their history a left wing party is taking over the leadership of the country. Expectations are high, as well as the reservations…