There has been rioting in Athens in the last day or so as the full consequences of the Greek debt for the Greek people hit home. The referendum was a false dawn as it carried little weight against the power of the bank institutions and the EU powerbrokers, they may have voted No to austerity but the EU has said Yes and unfortunately with the banks on the brink of collapse in Greece they have very little option but to bite the bullet and agree to the austerity measures. The EU are legally entitled, under their regulations, to ask for Greece to start paying back their debt.
Pulling out of the European Union was a possibility but it carried with it grave dangers for the Greek government and its people. How would the country have coped with no bail out money from the EU? Would many of their banks have gone to the wall, and with it millions of peoples savings, pensions, hopes and dreams? In the end they weighed up the pro`s and con`s and realised that it was probably better the devil they know.
Now the austerity measures will hit the Greeks hard and it is this realisation, together with the fact that all the posturing by their Prime Minister and Finance Minister has come to absolutely nothing, that has led to the scenes of rioting and anger on the streets of Athens. They will be angry both with their own government both past and present for failing them and getting into such a mess with a deficit that is quite impossible to pay back, and angry with the EU for the way they are now going to be treated.
They are now going to be in a period of austerity for years, even decades, which is going to be a salutary lesson for the Greek government and a painful time for the average man in the street. But it was ever thus that the ordinary man pays for the mistakes of its leaders.
Meanwhile the European Union, Merkel et al, will be feeling pretty pleased with themselves that they have kept all the EU intact and they have stood firm and reminded all the member countries that they have to play ball and cannot run up a deficit without paying a heavy price for it and being brought back into line with a bump. They have got back their authority and ensured the Greeks agreed to all their measures and that is a win-win situation for the EU.