After the Greek Elections: The Mood on the Streets

Greece inched back from the brink of exiting the euro, but the issues have not gone away. What’s the mood after the Greek elections? Where is Europe headed?

I’m writing from Greece, the nation that last Sunday held crucial parliamentary elections. The Greek elections were seen as a sign of the economic future of the country; and beyond that, the elections were closely watched around Europe because they could have forced, and may still do so, a major rethink of the whole eurozone project.

In previous posts we have analyzed the implications of this second round of elections. They followed the elections on May 6, which were frustratingly inconclusive, showing a nation split on whether it should swallow the bitter financial austerity measures in order to attempt to resolve the crisis or, in effect, refuse to confront it and hope to coerce other nations, especially Germany, into footing the bill in order to keep Greece solvent and in the eurozone.

Greek election pulls Greece back from the brink

In Sunday’s elections Antonis Samaras’ New Democracy party won 129 of the parliament’s 300 seats. This is not enough to govern alone, but with his lead over the anti-bailout, radical-left Syriza party (29 percent of the vote compared to Syriza’s 27 percent), Samaras won the right to try to form a coalition government that will pursue policies to keep Greece in the eurozone.

Greece pulled back from the brink, at least for a moment.

Tensions affect tourism

At first glance, the situation on the street in Athens and around Greece seems normal; but after a closer look, signs of tension and discouragement or even despair are evident.

Restaurateurs, taxi drivers, car rental agents and other tourism professionals confirmed to me that there are far fewer tourists than normal this season. Tourists are staying away after reading about instability, demonstrations and occasional acts of organized violence—although none of these have targeted tourists, who, as a matter of Greek culture, are treated with courtesy and hospitality.

The decline in tourism is another blow to an economy that is already shutting down. We observed several examples of public employees at their posts but not doing their jobs. We saw ticket takers in uniform at the ancient Agora, for example, asleep on a bench rather than selling entry tickets. The staff members at the Corinth archaeological site were at their posts, but testily refused to open the site to visitors—effectively drawing their salaries but locking us out, thereby reducing the flow of tourists to shops and restaurants nearby.

There is a heavy, if discreet, police presence in the center of Athens, especially around the tourist area of Plaka near the Acropolis and around Syntagma Square, where the parliament is located. This is to prevent acts of violence like those that have been perpetrated by extremist political parties during the election uncertainty.

Feelings of frustration and betrayal

The Greeks with whom I have spoken are frustrated, confused and angry with the impasse. They don’t have a clear idea of how the country should move forward; and they feel betrayed by their politicians, by the European Union and by the press—which several commented has exacerbated the crisis through sensationalist reporting. They feel they are being made to pay a heavy tribute for the irresponsible actions of others.

Spotlight shifting to Spain and Italy

This is what it looks like in Greece—a country facing only a slightly lessened threat of imminent chaos and, at worst, actual collapse.

And now the European economic spotlight is shifting to Spain and Italy, larger countries that are also in need of urgent bailouts according to The Telegraph. Any of these pots could boil over at any time.

Chaos can lead to stunning changes

History shows that in times of economic and political chaos, people who don’t see a viable way out of a crisis will accept autocratic leadership that promises to restore order. France under Napoleon, Italy under Mussolini, and Germany under Hitler are some of the best-known examples; but there are many others, even in recent times, in Asia, Africa, South America and the Middle East.

Bible prophecy predicts a political, economic and military union in Europe that will dominate much of the world just before the return of Jesus Christ. Revelation 17, in particular, describes a union of church and state (a resurrection of the Holy Roman Empire) that will stun the world and play a key role in the conflagration immediately to precede the return of Christ.

Such times of uncertainty and chaos should command our attention as we witness world events heading toward their prophesied outcomes.

For more about where we are now in Bible prophecy, see the articles in our section on the “End Times.”

About the Author

Joel Meeker

Joel Meeker

Joel Meeker is a pastor, writer, editor and administrator. He serves as regional director for the French-speaking regions of the Church of God, a Worldwide Association, and as chairman of its Board of Directors.

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