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The Greek day after
by Thanos Kalamidas
2009-10-06 07:38:05
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Days before the Greek national election I wrote an article emphasizing that the result of this election is very critical for all the major political parties in Greece and the period that is going to follow might change the Greek political scenery as we know it for over than thirty years since the fall of the dictatorship in mid 70s. And the day after came in a sock wave, the conservative party lost the election with the lowest record in its thirty years history – coincidentally the day of the election, October 4th, was the same day the Prime Minister’s uncle found the conservative party – and the socialists made a historic victory taking over the absolute majority in the Greek parliament.

Looking at the impressive 43.92% of the Greek Socialist Party we miss the magnificent turn of the Greek society that gave to centre-left parties over than 62% and I have the feeling that this will be the beginning of a general turn over not only in Greece but also for the rest of Europe. The last decade PASOK, the Greek socialist party has suffered from exactly the same disease that all the European socialist and social-democratic parties have suffered including the Labour Party in UK.

During the eighties and nineties the socialists and socialist-democrats in Europe enjoyed governing with the full trust and support of the people not only from their parties but from the wider society including elements from the centre-right. Occasionally some of them enjoyed full confidence again and again despite their mistakes. But that ended in late nineties and the main reason was that the socialists became regime, their passion for power made them forget the people they represented, made them arrogant and victims of their dark side. In the end the only socialist part on them was somewhere in their manifestos and the phraseology they used during their campaigns while their actions pointed to a transform to conservatives with the …wrong name. This period ended when the European societies felt that the solutions on the piling financial problems were demanding prime minsters/managers short of CEOs style instead of idealists or socialists only in the name.  The socialists and the social-democrats had abused the power the people had given them and they should go away before the damage they were doing got worst, and they did! In Greece the people send them home turning to the conservatives and hoping that something had changed on them from their former selves, a new spirit, perhaps the charismatic new and young leader. 

But the experiment with the CEO/Prime Ministers proved to be nothing more than …CEOs; self centred, opportunists that cared only for themselves and the ones that followed them perhaps increased their wealth but the same time increased the numbers of unemployed and they made the gap between poor and rich huge. And on top of that they have the arrogance to believe that whatever they do people will still vote for them because they are …charming! Silvio Berlusconi is the best example of that. A successful and ruthless businessman became Prime Minister promising that he will transform his magic from his business offices to the nation. I have the feeling that the Italians will soon follow the Greeks.

The worst thing these neo-conservative parties did the last two decades was that they awoke the monster, the cancer f the European political life; small nationalistic, racist and xenophobic parties used this lack of ideology to make a lot of noise and it is always amazing how much noise these parties can do. We saw it in France; we saw it in Greece, in Italy, in Finland! Oddly it was the conservative parties that gave them the power and the space to make all the noise and it is their failure that has made their percentages to increase.

But it is amazing how big is the quiet part of the society and the timing it has to show its power; because that’s exactly what happened in Greece this Sunday. Nobody was expecting the Greek Socialist Party to get so many votes; 43.92% is a huge percent and guarantees an easy majority in the Greek Parliament. But the 62% of the Greek centre-left is what should make everybody more aware, especially the socialists. 62% of the Greek society demands from the Socialist party, from the parliament and especially from the new Greek Prime Minister, Georgios Papandreou to do something now avoiding the mistakes both the conservatives and the former socialist governments have done. And there is a warning there, that there is no forget and forgive any more. there is no waiting. Mr. Papandreou got the 43.92% because he said that he has solutions, because he said that he has a plan and he has better act fast. Because this 62% is a warning and the same time shows him what the people expect from him.

The years away from the power gave the chance to the Greek socialist party to heal its wounds and understand that we are in the beginning of the 21st century. Green economy is not any more a marketing and promotion trick but a fact, that’s the future of a healthy economy. Education over defence expenses is not a wishful thought but a demand for a modern society and environment is a necessity. What remains is to see if the pictures of Mr. Papandreou during his campaign with his shirts’ sleeves rolled up ready to start working are …true!


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ap2009-10-06 12:24:41
Good news then, or at least possibilities open, which is not bad! :)

Emanuel Paparella2009-10-06 12:51:17
“I have the feeling that the Italians will soon follow the Greeks.”

Indeed, Thanos, historically that would not be the first time. Without forgetting some unique contributions such as law and architecture, the Romans admired Greek civilization, imitated the Greeks in various cultural areas and their leaders sent their sons to Greece to complete their education. They created the so called Greco-Roman civilization, for the Romans were never reluctant to imitate the best of the people they conquered and were not afraid to confront their worst either. But whether or not the present Italians are able to imitate the Romans in this respect is problematic at best; it may indeed be just a pious wish and a whistling in the dark. As Guicciardini put it to Machiavelli: to pretend that the present Italians are the direct descendant of the Romans and can act accordingly is the equivalent of comparing a noble horse to a donkey. Unfortunately more than 60% of Italians are still in love with Berlusconi’s cuteness and think of him as a doer and shaker; somebody that will get them out of the financial hole they are in now, blissfully unaware of the donkey’s ears of Berlusconi, i.e., his apparent ethical and political flaws. One of the desperate stratagems of the decadent Roman emperors toward the end of the empire was to give people bread and circuses to make them acquiesce to the emperor’s dictates and hide their incompetence as political leaders, whether the emperor be naked or clothed. My last visit to Italy a few weeks ago reminded me of that stratagem which seems to be working for Berlusconi who runs around in Palazzo Chigi pursuing naked prostitutes. Nevertheless, let’s remain hopeful that providentially the imitation of the Greeks will happen once again. Time will tell.

ap2009-10-06 13:56:19
I think that southern-europeans in general have a lack of self-esteem (except for the spaniards, who now seem almost fully recovered from the wounds of the civil war and are, in their majority, naturally proud). Those are probably scars left by the dictatorships. They will take their time to heal. Dictatorships affect the collective dignity of any people. Part of the task of developing mediterranean countries in a sustainable way is simply concerned with giving dignity back to their peoples, with caring for who they are. This can be done in many ways, including by cherishing their tremendously rich cultures, building more socially balanced societies and praising their natural connection with nature by translating it into environment-friendly ways of life, which are the future of their economies and will bring tremendous prosperity. To bring up their solar side, their basic dignity, is fundamental for their development.

ap2009-10-06 14:55:00
Talking about european politics, here is a poetry in homage to Barroso, 'Citizen', written and performed just a few days ago in Berlin by a dear and lovely friend of mine, a young portuguese writer/scriptwriter/poet named Jorge Vaz Nande. The poem is written on the side:

Anastasios2009-10-07 13:05:14
ap, it is southern European politicians that have a self-esteem issue, not the average citizen. Politicians at least in he case of Greece lack completely a vision for their country, they are unprepared and even incompetent as has been the case of Karamanlis. It is not an easy task..

ap2009-10-07 17:15:48
so why does the average citizen allow them to be elected? maybe the average citizen just 'doesn't give a shit', like in the poem.

Anastasios2009-10-07 19:08:54
It is obvious that your personal experience and overall view of the world you live in is a bit compromized.

Thanos2009-10-07 22:16:37
"so why does the average citizen allow them to be elected?" Hasn't this been the question internationally when it comes to the people who rule us?

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