Joanna Kakissis examines for TIME the anti-austerity protests in Greece this week. After a year of austerity economics, even some formerly complacent Greeks have taken to the streets of Athens to protest Premier George Papandreou and his PASOK political party and their plan to institute an IMF-mandated second round of budget counts that will amount to some $40 billion. While some analysts expected Papandreou to resign his premiership, he instead reaffirmed his commitment to leading Greece out of its debt crisis in the wake of citizen protests. The embattled premier even offered to restructure his PASOK-led government to accommodate members of the main opposition party, New Democracy, but both parties have suffered a significant drop in popularity, leaving a possible opening in upcoming elections. Kakissis writes:
“This government is almost dead,” says Kostas Ifantis, a political science professor at the University of Athens. “I cannot see how they can push forward with the very, very painful measures the country needs. It was hard ten months ago, but it’s even harder now.”
There’s little indication that a new government will pave the way to stability — even if new cabinet consists of fresh faces rather than longtime Greek politicians, whom most Greeks view as hopelessly corrupt and insular. “Markets are not going to respond well to this political turbulence,” says Theodore Pelagidis, a professor of economic analysis at the University of Piraeus. “Right now, what is seriously lacking in this country is political leadership, and neither major party can offer it. There is no way out of this crisis without a healthy political system, which this country does not have.”
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