From minimum wage to prescriptions, Alexis Tsipras is making good his promises to voters in startling fashion
One by one they were rolled back, blitzkrieg-style, mercilessly, ruthlessly, with rat-a-tat efficiency. First the barricades came down outside the Greek parliament. Then it was announced that privatisation schemes would be halted and pensions reinstated. And then came the news of the reintroduction of the €751 monthly minimum wage. And all before Greece’s new prime minister, the radical leftwinger Alexis Tsipras, had got his first cabinet meeting under way.
After that, ministers announced more measures: the scrapping of fees for prescriptions and hospital visits, the restoration of collective work agreements, the rehiring of workers laid off in the public sector, the granting of citizenship to migrant children born and raised in Greece. On his first day in office – barely 48 hours after storming to power – Tsipras got to work. The biting austerity his Syriza party had fought so long to annul now belonged to the past, and this was the beginning not of a new chapter but a book for the country long on the frontline of the euro crisis.
Related: ‘Hope begins today was their mantra’: the inside story of Syriza’s rise to power
Related: Yanis Varoufakis: maverick economist with Greece’s fate in his hands
Mark Carney’s prescription of how to deal with the euro mess may take another lost decade
In a speech that delicately avoided mention of Greece or Germany, Mark Carney summed up what is wrong with the eurozone: it is in a debt trap and escape is only possible if its members start sharing some risks.
The governor of the Bank of England is surely correct on the facts. Low growth is adding to the debt burden. Fear of stagnation is holding back investment. Quantitative easing, though welcome, can’t eliminate risks. Too many countries are trying to improve their competitiveness against each other, doing little to improve aggregate demand.