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The Dark Hole in the Economy and the Dark Age of Greek Politics

ΤΣΙΡΚΟ-ΣΑΜΑΡΑΣ-ΒΕΝΙΖΕΛΟΣ-ΤΣΙΠΡΑΣ-ΚΟΥΒΕΛΗΣ-ΚΟΥΤΣΟΥΜΠΑΣAristophanes, the great ancient Greek satirist, would have a field day if he was alive today and could observe the current political situation in the land of gods.
The pre-election madness of the last few days has sent Greece to the Dark Ages of political confrontation. The barbaric instincts of most candidates have come out in the ugliest ways. Their followers wage a war against each other. Today only, a makeshift bomb exploded in the office of New Democracy MP Adonis Georgiadis. The saddest thing though is that SYRIZA supporters applauded the attack in the social media. It is hard to determine who is worse: the party chiefs, or the mob following blindly?
The politics of accusations prevails: there are no civilized arguments, no expression of opinions, no logical proposals. Just blind accusations and crude insults. The two major party leaders try to outdo each other in vulgarity and cheap sarcasm. If Antonis Samaras had accepted Alexis Tsipras‘ invitation to a television debate, no one would be surprised if the two men ended up holding a swearing match. Or coming to blows.
Yet, while the cheating gladiators clash happily in the arena with the mindless crowds cheering, the country is facing a very serious fiscal problem: Amidst all promises from both sides that the property tax — the infamous ENFIA — will be reduced or abolished, bad loans will be adjusted, outstanding electricity bills will be taken care of, most Greeks took advantage of the political upheaval and stopped paying their taxes, loans or utility bills.
As a result, at the moment, there is very little going on in state revenues. Adding to that the adjustment period after the new government takes over, and one wonders — how the heck will the state meet its financial obligations? Greece will have to wait until the end of February for the final troika review. If Samaras hadn’t screwed up by rushing to exit the bailout program, the review would have been completed by now and Greece most likely would have taken the precious 7.2 billion euro allocated installment.
Samaras claims the 7.2 billion euros would help the country immensely. Tsipras says that the troika installment would bind Greece to impose the harsh austerity measures required. To increase state revenues, he proposes a new tax system that would tax heavily only the rich, without specifying their definition of rich. And, of course, without specifying when these revenues will be collected.
As it is, the country will face a very serious liquidity problem after February. The 2015 state budget is already shot to hell. Athens has already lost 2 billion euros from property taxes alone as many taxpayers have defaulted expecting the repeal of ENFIA. It is estimated that by the end of the first quarter, there will be a 4.5 billion hole in state revenues from the property tax. The total fiscal gap at the moment stands at 3.9 billion euros. It is estimated that it will reach 10 billion by the end of March. The black fiscal hole will be wider in case there is a second round of elections, like it happened in 2012.
Yet, the two fighting parties continue the war, lost in election campaign oblivion. SYRIZA accuses New Democracy for handling the hot potato to the next government. ND counterattacks saying that it was SYRIZA that dragged the country to snap elections by refusing to elect president of the republic. Tsipras continues his campaign wallowing in the arrogance of the sure winner. Samaras fights with the fierceness of a cornered animal.
The two major party leaders are like two people who are fighting tooth and nail over who will drive a running bus heading for a cliff with loose breaks. Unfortunately, the passengers are the Greek people.

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