ATHENS – Except for the rich, politicians, tax cheats and the privileged, Greece’s long economic crisis has taken such a hard toll that 50 percent of people say they are struggling to get by after being buried by harsh austerity measures.
The ruling Radical Left SYRIZA-led coalition promised to reverse big pay cuts, tax hikes, slashed pensions and worker firings but doubled down on them under orders from the country’s creditors to whom Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras surrendered instead of defying as he swore he would do.
He imposed another avalanche of tax hikes in 2016 and more will kick in on Jan. 1 and taxes on low-and-middle income families are in the wings too.
A study by the University of Macedonia in Thessaloniki said half of Greeks have financial difficulties each month and 10 percent said they can’t make it.
Only 6.5 percent of respondents reported having no financial problems in December month, a 1 percent increase compared to the same period last year. That was despite a big holiday handout by Tsipras to lower-income pensioners and jobless youth in a frantic bid to turn around his plummeting popularity at a cost of 1.4 billion euros ($1.68 billion) to the budget.