Grandmothers feel the crisis too. During a demonstration in Athens, 21 june.

The crisis according to Dimitra

Angry youths are not the only protesters in Athens's streets. Many older citizens like Dimitra feel that the new austerity measures are destroying everything they've worked for, finds Foreign Policy's correspondent.

Published on 24 June 2011 at 14:53
Grandmothers feel the crisis too. During a demonstration in Athens, 21 june.

After a year with the same old crowd of anarcho-leftists and labor unionists at the endless anti-austerity protests in Athens, I finally met a Greek who might well be the posterwoman for the economic crisis.

Dimitra is a 62-year-old grandmother who lives in the once-fancy, now-bedraggled central Athens neighborhood around Victoria Square. She runs a mini-market that supports not only her, but also her underemployed daughter and two grandchildren. It's about to go under. She has always paid her taxes, even as her tax-evading friends have ridiculed her, and never spent more than she could save. But the austerity measures have driven up her tax and utility bills, so her savings are running out. And if that wasn't enough, her neighborhood is now filled with drug addicts and gangs. She's afraid to go out after dark because she's gotten mugged more times than she can remember. "I am wearing out," she says.

For many years, Greek politicians didn't pay attention to people like Dimitra. They should have. This silent majority -- the Greeks who followed the rules, paid their taxes, and lived within their means -- are now paying for debts racked up by a corrupt, inefficient, and clientelistic political system that gave them almost nothing. The government shouldn't fear the aganaktismenoi, the slogan-chanting Greeks who have camped out for weeks in Syntagma Square in a sit-in anti-austerity protest modeled after Spain's indignados. They should fear Dimitra, and every other Greek like her who has quietly given Greek politicians the benefit of the doubt and, after this year of austerity gone nowhere, finally lost patience with them.

Read the full article at Foreign Policy ...

Subscribe to the Voxeurop newsletter in English


Was this article useful? If so we are delighted! It is freely available because we believe that the right to free and independent information is essential for democracy. But this right is not guaranteed forever, and independence comes at a cost. We need your support in order to continue publishing independent, multilingual news for all Europeans. Discover our membership offers and their exclusive benefits and become a member of our community now!

Are you a news organisation, a business, an association or a foundation? Check out our bespoke editorial and translation services.

Support independent European journalism

European democracy needs independent media. Join our community!

On the same topic