(Cover photo: Space Shoe/Flickr. Story Photo: AMG International)
Greece (MNN) ― Greece dodged a bullet with the elections Sunday, but there could be more bullets coming.
It appears the letup from Greece's election results was short-lived. Cornerstone University business professor Dr. Brad Stamm explains, "I think we're at the beginning. Greece was kind of a litmus test. 'Let's see what happens; let's see if they stay in.' They're small enough that they can't really affect that dramatically the European Union or the rest of the world."
The party that won was the more conservative New Democracy Party. Going into the elections, there were grim reports that there was a 30% chance Greece would leave the Eurozone. Europe's leaders scrambled to have a response in place, but instead met Sunday's results with a sigh of relief. "I think this all came about because the Greeks realized that there's enough volatility in the country," Stamm observes. "They didn't want to introduce any more risk into their nation, so the safest way out in the short run was to go with the New Democracy Party and to stay in the Union as best they could."
The New Democracy Party, which supports keeping Greece's bailout deal with its European government creditors, was moving to form a three-party coalition government by Monday morning. That's a step in the right direction, says Tasos Ioannidis with AMG International. "This will allow Greece to proceed with the reforms and negotiations with the European Union and the IMF. Although it will not be easy for the Greek people moving forward, this is better than the alternative which would have been bankruptcy."
Stamm agrees. In fact, he notes that there's been some ease in the austerity measures. "The rest of the European nations--in particular, Germany--have somewhat backed off of the demands on Greece as far as paying back its loans."
The respite was reflected in a market rally for a few hours, then the focus shifted to a larger problem. Stamm describes what's happening. "Spain is the third-largest country in the European Union. They've got record-high interest rates. They've got record unemployment. They're in serious trouble with their banks. There continues to be capital flight out of the country."
Many economists defined the election as a choice between staying in the Euro and returning to the drachma. The message from Greece was once more that they wanted to stay in the euro but not at the price of the austerity measures they were enduring. Ioannidis explains, "There are still going to be needs, but if the country had followed the direction that would have left them out of the Eurozone and the European Union, then the need would have been much greater and it would have appeared much more quickly."
The message is clear: the austerity program, along with budget and spending cuts will stay. The election results mean the AMG team will have an interval in which to build support. "It gives them more time in the sense that they can be better prepared to meet the needs of the Greek people," Ioannidis notes, adding that "we are trying to make people aware of what's going on in Greece. We are trying to mobilize people to help them understand that there are a lot of suffering people and that they need help. We are trying to mobilize people to pray for Christians.
They're trusting God for provision, too. The Greek economy is in free-fall, but Ioannidis says there is hope. "The situation is going to be really difficult for the next six months primarily. If the government forms right now and they take the right steps, it's conceivable that by the end of this year, the depression that has been facing the Greek economy will start to reverse."
And then, there's HOPE. "People who were financially well off and now have nothing are desperate. God is using their desperation to open their hearts to the Gospel, so it gives us the opportunity as we help people to let them know that we are doing that in the name of Christ, we are showing the love of Christ to them."
The streets bear the scars of social breakdown. Homelessness is on the rise. Food prices are skyrocketing. AMG International's goal is to raise funds to provide for basic needs for those families. Ioannidis says, "We need people to pray for strength and wisdom for the Greek leaders, for strength for the Greek people, and that we would be able to use this as an opportunity to share the Good News."
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