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In the name of democracy please be democratic
by Thanos Kalamidas
2012-05-17 10:44:11
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Greece is set for new elections and somehow I have the feeling that in these elections is not only Greece that tests democracy but the whole Europe and in a strange déjà vu – especially regarding the European aspect of the Greek elections – I see the Irish referendum all over again in a far more dramatic version.

I always been fascinated with the contemporary semantics but somehow democracy and semantics – at least for me – don’t go together and most importantly democracy is not just a theory, an electoral system, a political do; is a way of life. Democracy must be the conscience of every single citizen in this world. And saying that here we are in contemporary Greece under a serious crisis. It never was an economic crisis just like the European was never an economic crisis, it always was a political crisis which means that democracy was in danger. Oddly we have this obsession always to test how fragile democracy is, and we are doing very good job.

For decades Greece always had electoral winners. One party that would take all, form a government and literally rule until the other party, a strong bipartisan political reality, managed to turn things around. Suddenly the people decided that they had enough in too many levels and they didn’t let any party to take the majority even though the two parties had managed to create a totally unethical electoral law that served their aims and only that. So ten days ago the Greek political system found itself in front of a new reality. They had to form a coalition government made from parties with ideological, political, historical differences. But their differences don’t stop there, memories are another critical factor that divided the Greek parties and these memories are alive and kicking. 1974 didn’t just mark the end of the seven years of military dictatorship, it also meant the end of a civil war that had divided the Greeks for decades. The first part, the military part of this war, finished in 1949 but the war was not over it just continued in a different form through witnesses and their very alive memories.

The generation that ruled Greece after 1974 and until the early 1990s was the generation with these alive memories and the generation that ruled after that until today is the result, the outcome of these alive memories. The differences are beyond political, they are personal. And now, in this very difficult moment they found the chance to emerge to the surface. Listening and reading the Greek media this moment I found myself in the middle of uncontrollable hot feelings. The word traitor has become the place where both sides meet and there is even talk about civil war. The leader of the left alliance (SYRIZA) is described like the monster that will turn Greece into a contemporary Soviet Union, as the enemy of the state and the nemesis of the Greek democracy the same time when a neo-Nazi party has entered the Greek parliament with 21 MPs. The thing has cross the borders of Greece and has spent all around Europe with officials, even ministers – who apparently are obliged to know better – from Finland to Germany and Spain warning that it will be catastrophic if an extreme left party take over Greece and that immediately Greece will be put out of the euro-zone and down to hell!

I’m not going to analyze what SYRIZA represents, it’s not my thing but I want to remind what democracy is about. Democracy is about respect. Is about respecting that there is another opinion than yours and you have to defend this right for the other opinion, period. If the Finnish foreign minister Mr. Stubb doesn’t want – as he expressed it was not an opinion but wish - the idea of a left alliance party governing Greece, that something that is up to the Greek people to decide and not to him. His and everybody else’s obligation is to respect the will of the Greek people. That’s democracy. And the same applies to my compatriots. Why the 6% that voted the neo-Nazis are misled people self-deluded by populism and the 16.8% that voted the left alliance plus the 8.5% that voted the communist party are traitors? Both – the people in Greece and the Europeans – have to understand that you have to defend the right off the people to vote whatever they want as long it is constitutional. In fact they are obliged to defend this right because this is democracy.

In the beginning of this article I mentioned Ireland and the referendum. I suppose most of us still have fresh memories of the Irish referendum for the European constitution. The Irish people went to vote under the tremendous weight of the fear internal and external elements had put on them. The warnings that this was the end of Europe that the Irish people will be the nemesis of Europe made headlines in all the European media and after the negative vote the Irish were dealt like the pariahs of Europe. Why? Because they had an opinion for their life and future? Because they had the right to have this opinion and will? And what changed after the negative vote? Actually the negative vote proved to be constructive, giving the chance to the European leadership to rethink the constitution and what it really gives to the European people and not to the contemporary European geopolitical agendas; that the European leadership failed to do something about it is a totally different story.

The same exactly play we see unveiling this moment with Greece. Greece is going to be the nemesis of Europe, the end of the euro-zone, the domino effect; from the German economic minister Wolfgang Schäuble to Christine Lagard, the IMF director doomsday starts from Greece and the left alliance leader is the antichrist. Actually Ms Lagard, Mr Schäuble even Mr Barroso have expressed openly their wish for a conservatives-socialists coalition government in government making me wonder when Greece became a private company where these people can appoint managers and I didn’t get the memo?

Unfortunately democracy is something so simple to explain but so difficult to practice and this moment both my compatriot politicians and their European partners prove that they have absolutely no idea what democracy is about!

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Leah Sellers2012-05-17 16:05:35
Dear Thanos,
Sir, you have many nails upon the head.
When people are in Fear modality, as the Worlds leaders, and others, have been deliberately placed within, they do not seek coalition. They hunker down and stand their ground.
Compromise, Communication,the generally held concept of Universal Good Will toward and for All, Fairness, and Justice for All are some of the most important Ingredients which make up the static/dynamic Soul of Democracy - of Democratic Republics. Otherwise, all that is left are plutacracies, autocratic dictatorships, tyrannical brutalities.
We the People need to ask ourselves, who is pushing our self-destruct buttons, and then promptly remove their manipulative clawing fingers from those buttons; so that WE can All See and Think clearly once again.

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