This sounds a little unlikely unless it was almost entirely the young who voted No, as is perhaps likely. Every single electoral district voted No. In Crete the No vote was almost 75%. It turns out that our old PASOK friend is puzzled. He voted Yes and can’t see that what PASOK was supposed to stand for is now to an extent included in Syrizas aims – as I think British Labour can’t bring themselves to see the SNP as the Social Democrats they are. How is it that the Right can always slither around so expertly, changing while remaining the same, while the Left find reasons to get sectarian about people they could agree with and change things with?
So we talk politics. There is hostility to Syriza on the Left. Some of this is personal and seems to have a lot to do with Yannis Varoufakis’s leather jacket and with the perceived triumphalism and aggressive negotiating style of the party. But maybe this is exactly what Greece needs. Greece has, I think, often taken for granted the goodwill and knowledge of the rest of Europe and the US. I remember George Mavros coming out of talks after Turkey invaded Cyprus having negotiated like the gentleman he was and shaking his head because Greece was not being listened to. Maybe Greece feels stupid. Ireland certainly felt very stupid when the banks collapsed and various improbable and unsustainable bubbles burst. And Greece has never had a Celtic Tiger (or, as the poet Louis de Paor called it, a Celtic Ferret) to feel bumptious about. But at least now there is some pride. Grigoris, who works in the campsite next to us says ‘we are proud again’.
So we spend an evening and at midnight we are taken round the corner to assist at an almost silent vigil at the local ATM machine. There’s a 60 euro daily limit on withdrawals and some people have taken to going at midnight when the queues are smaller and the air cooler. A Greek queue is usually an amorphous gathering of fairly noisy talkers. The midnight queue is quiet, conversations gentle. It’s like the rest of Greece, waiting. Their money is locked up and so is their future.
Businesses have no access to money. Greek lorries and their cargos are stranded in Northern Europe because the drivers can’t be sent money to get them home. A milk company has milk and bottles but no bottle-tops, which come from abroad, so they can’t sell the milk. Thessaloniki’s Archeological Service, which is restoring the city’s Roman remains, cannot pay the tradesmen already contracted to complete restoration work. Paralysis.
While we continue to cheer on the Greeks and to admire the courage of their No vote, remember this everyday courage, their 50 euros a day ration, their defiant patience.