ATHENS – While the New Democracy government is ringing the bell over an economic comeback and growth expected to hit 6 percent in 2022 – during the waning COVID-19 pandemic – Greeks aren’t benefiting, said PASOK-KINAL Socialist leader Nikos Androulakis.
The government, however, is pumping more than 9 billion euros ($8.96 billion) into subsides to help pay up to 90 percent of electric bills that doubled during an energy crisis sparked by the effect of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. But Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis backed away from a pledge to consider cutting a 24 percent Value Added Tax (VAT) on food as people are struggling to make ends meet although the government urged supermarkets to create a ‘household basket’ holding down prices of 50 essential items.
Androulakis said that, “In Greece, we have inflation of high prices for the vulnerable and the middle class and inflation of super profits for the powerful,” positioning himself for the 2023 elections that are coming.
He said that data showed households earning up to 750 euros ($746.27) a month have lost 40 percent of their purchasing power while those earning up to 1100 euros ($1095) are also struggling as prices have risen so dramatically.
“At the same time, the big energy producers, while the price of the megawatt hour was around 400 euros and 233 euros in the two previous months, sold it at 600 and 800 euros. And of course there is the issue with the banks, where the difference of deposit interest rates and the average loan interest rate is the largest in Europe,” he said, reported the state-run Athens-Macedonia News Agency AMNA.
He said that, “the government, instead of prioritizing the protection of the vulnerable and middle class, continues in this great economic crisis to be a policeman for powerful financial interests.”
Since taking over the party at the end of 2021, Androulakis – he is also a Member of the European Parliament, but not of the Greek Parliament – has resurrected its standing, doubling popularity in polls to around 13 percent, making it the third most favored in the country.
He could be a kingmaker in 2023 elections if a winning party – New Democracy is leading big in polls – doesn’t get enough of the vote to form a government outright and would need a coalition partner.
That would create an odd bedfellows administration though as Androulakis’ phone was bugged by the National Intelligence Service EYP that’s under the direct control of Mitsotakis – who said he knew nothing about it nor would he have allowed it.
While Greeks being polled have noted the importance of the surveillance scandal also reportedly seeing Predator spyware infecting the phones of politicians and journalists, their biggest concern is the economy, and Androulakis has jumped on the issue hard.