John Markakis

John Markakis’s most recent book is Ethiopia: The Last Two Frontiers.

Taking to the Streets: Greek Democracy

John Markakis, 22 March 2012

‘The state is bankrupt, let’s face it,’ an editorial in the Greek daily Kathimerini concluded the day after a museum in ancient Olympia – left virtually unguarded owing to personnel cuts – was robbed in broad daylight. The furore over the country’s economic troubles has deflected foreign attention from the collapse of the political system, though it’s...

From The Blog
6 December 2012

On the drizzly evening of 7 November, I joined a demonstration in front of the Parliament in Athens. Like the estimated 100,000 other people in the vast square and surrounding streets to protest against the imposition of yet another – the fifth – round of austerity measures being debated inside the building, I wasn’t in a good mood. My pension had already been cut by 40 per cent, the tax rate on the remainder nearly doubled, and a further cut was planned. We were kept away from the building by multiple rows of police, a terrifying sight with their bulky black uniforms, white helmets and visors, assorted weapons and communications gear, tear-gas canisters and water cannons. The scene that wet evening made for a peculiar image of democracy in practice; the people’s elected representatives cowering inside the temple of democracy, protected from the people’s wrath by a praetorian guard. That was bad enough. Inside the building, parliamentary democracy was getting short shrift.

From The Blog
21 June 2012

Like most Greeks, I have had my medical needs covered by a comprehensive state health insurance programme to which I’ve contributed all my working life. It is supposed to mean that I don’t pay for services and only a token amount for medicines. But at the doctor’s last month, the examination over and the prescription written, I was handed a receipt for €50. ‘What’s this?’ I asked. ‘My fee.’ ‘I’m insured, as you know.’ ‘I know. That’s why I’ve given you a receipt.’ ‘To do what with it?’ ‘So you can be reimbursed.’ ‘When?’ ‘If and when the crisis ends, and you’re still alive.’

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