The elections’ aftermath and SYRIZA’s ghost

So the (first) elections are over, the situation is kind of normalized and we’re preparing for the next ones on June 17. Greece is a weird country when it comes to elections. Some years ago New Democracy had won an election but the talk-of-the-town was what was happening in PASOK’s leadership. Two weeks ago, New Democracy did it again. They’ve won the elections but everybody is talking about SYRIZA and its leader, sexy Alexis. So who are they? If you want to get informed, read this by BBC’s Paul Mason, whose reports on Greece are probably the most accurate accounts of foreign journalists on what’s happening here.

Well, Greeks did not become radical leftists within a night, as they haven’t been transformed to fascists either. What most Greeks were looking for in the past election was a way to express their opposition to the bailout measures and the Memoranda, an economic policy and seems more and more inefficient and unfeasible. Traditional right wing voters turned themselves to either the Independent Greeks party (centre-right voters) or the Golden Dawn party (far right party but mainly voted by traditional right wing people who are against immigrants). Though the Left had far more choices, the majority went to SYRIZA, a coalition of leftist fractions with a platform of uniting the Left (a rare motto in Greece and an perennial longing of all Greek leftists) to form a leftist government that will undo the Memorandum and cancel the loan agreements. Very appealing for a suffering Greek, isn’t it?

I personally think that these two goals are not feasible and Alexis Tsipras rather meant that he would try to renegotiate the loan agreements and the relevant measures that must be taken. Which is what he had actually caused with his 2nd position in the elections. Suddenly officials from the EU and politicians from several European countries are discussing the dead end of the current plan and are pointing out the need for a slight change or easing of the measures. There is simply no foreseeable solution and exit from the crisis with the current plan. And this fact is the only victory of Greece on a European level, not just since the last elections but during the past 2,5 years.

A cartoon of Angela Merkel and Alexis Tsirpas by German caricaturist Reiner Hachfeld.

You see, Greeks had seen the Papandreou and Papademos governments passing measures that were dictated by the EU, the ECB and the IMF without any attempt of negotiation. They’ve seen Papandreou going abroad and having new measures in his suitcase upon his return without any complaint. Samaras participated in this theatre not because he believed in the rationale of these measures but because he succumbed to another PASOK’s blackmail (either you’re on Greece side a step before bankruptcy or you’ll be responsible for its suicide) back in late 2011. So now there is a feeling that only SYRIZA and Tsipras can a) unite the Left in Greece to form its first leftist government and b) renegotiate the Memoranda. And Europe? Europe is scared of him. Europe is scared the shit out of him simply because they can’t control him and because he might mean what he says.

It’s true that SYRIZA has been a bit confusing as to what exactly they are going to do if they were to form a government. The party, an until recently small leftist party composed of different fractions that tolerated different opinions within the Left, has seen several of its members announcing contradicting promises. Its ennemies, PASOK and New Democracy basically, have used this to their favor. They started a huge campaign to discredit SYRIZA by reminding us on a daily basis of what would happen if SYRIZA comes to power. The EU has followed suit and here we are now, having daily predictions of a post-apocalyptic, Armageddon-style Greece if SYRIZA wins the elections. The whole joke, apart from a daily news item, has now gone viral, it has its own hashtag on Twitter (#ftaei_o_syriza) and is slowly entering the internet meme sphere.

I decided to create a special category of posts in this blog that would contain only these threats – I called it “The Daily Threat Show“. Come back and visit this page (or simply RSS it), I guarantee a lot of fun and also a glimpse of how Greek people’s brains are bombarded with such absurd prophecies and will then be called to vote as reasonable people. Ask any Greek in the street if he knows what will happen after June 17 and you will understand by the confusion in his answers.

But a confused Greek in the street is probably not an originality. Greeks have been confused since 2010 when they were suddenly called to have mature opinions on issues of high Economics. Europeans have always seen the Greeks as a confused people. They were asking themselves: so what do these Greeks want anyway? Why do they protest? Will they solve their problem by breaking one more bank? A foreign journalist (from a eurozone country) came last year to Athens and asked me: So, explain to me, why don’t you want our money?

Alexis Tsipras in a photoshoot by high school students’ magazine “Schooligans”

If Greeks are confused, Europeans are almost schizophrenic. The narrative they’ve adopted is “Greece is given money, they should shut up and do what we say”. They’ve no time to examine the measures asked from Greece to take. They are not in a position to know whether it’s a feasible plan. They are not here to see the misery caused together with the lack of hope for an exit from the crisis. And as they are confused too, they are also afraid of the uncertainty. Here’s a short story to illustrate this.

A foreign journalist came to Greece and we were discussing the situation. This is the dialogue we had.

Foreign journalist: Greece has falsified its statistics in order to enter the eurozone. I’m sorry to say this but Greece was corrupt, it has cheated and now it’s time to pay.
Me: Yes but people in Europe knew that Greece was cheating. And Greece was not the only country which altered its stats in order to achieve the eurozone criteria.
Foreign journalist: Who knew?
Me: A lot of people knew and certainly several EU officials.
Foreign journalist: Really? Who knew?
Me: Certainly the Germans knew about Greece and Italy. And part of the corruption was carried out with German money, through the scandals with Siemens and the German submarines.
Foreign journalist: Why the hell would Greece want a leader like Tsipras? He is going to get you out of the eurozone. His proposals are not realistic, are not feasible.
Me: I partly agree but you’re contradicting a bit now. I know, you know, the Greeks know that their previous governments, as you said, were corrupt. This crisis is happening because of them, of how they handled the situation for at least the past 10 years.
Foreign journalist: Right.
Me: So Greeks finally realize that these politicians are corrupt and they decided to take them down from power. That should please the EU, if it had a problem with their corrupt mentality.
Foreign journalist:…
Me: Tsipras is a young politician, inexperienced yes, but certainly not the like of the previous ones. So Greeks are choosing a new guy to govern them and the EU gets scared. You know why?
Foreign journalist: Why?
Me: Because they can’t, or don’t know yet if they can, control him. Because he is unknown. 
 

Alexis Tsipras is neither Ernesto Che Guevara nor a European Hugo Chavez. Tsipras is simply Greece’s only bargaining chip.

4 responses to “The elections’ aftermath and SYRIZA’s ghost

  1. Thank you for explaining. However, no one stuck a gun to our heads to take out loans. They knew we were playing with numbers, they could never imagine the number of zeros we were playing with. We did that ourselves. 280 billion euros debt for a country of 10 million (legal) citizens is A LOT of debt and it wasn’t just our corrupt governments. They showed us good faith and our government took advantage. We, as citizens took advantage too. We too took part in the lies, bribing to get tickets erased, bribing to pay less taxes, not paying taxes on private lessons, shall I go on? I remember hearing from 1992 – 2005 ‘The northern Europeans are stupid. Kala pernamei. Poy na katalavoun;’. That is why the Europeans, particularly the Germans are so angry and frustrated with us, we lied and cheated. We lost our integrity.
    For us to even begin gaining our honor back, if we want to stay in the EU, we must accept responsibility and show our fellow EU members that we take our commitments seriously. Go after the really big fish first. Arrest the powerful families and politicians who stole and embezzled the money. Tzohatzopoulos is the tip of the iceberg. REALLY go after them. Force Parliament to change the laws whereby politicians are exempt. Give the Greek federal judges the right to veto the laws created by Parliament. Give the EU the list of families who usurped our nation and are now because of their greed, starving our nation. Go after the entourage of those families too. Ask the EU for help since our laws are so Byzantine.
    Once the Europeans and our fellow citizens see that we are going after the Greek Bernie Madoffs, then they may begin to listen. Then we may be able to renegotiate our loans. Right now all we see on the out of Greece are politicians running around in circles like the Greek Three Stooges (even Vegos would be impressed), riots, protests, and molotov cocktails. Get the big fish. Give the Greek people some hope and pride back.

    I hope Syriza can pull this off because New Democracy and PASOK surely didn’t. I hope Tsipras and Syriza have the strength, courage and integrity to do what ND and PASOK couldn’t- have the leadership skills to rule an exhausted nation. Have the strength to throw away the Byzantine mentality and modernize so Greece can be competitive in the 21st century. Have the ethics to stop corruption so we as a nation can have our integrity back.

    Zele Avradopoulos
    Greek- American who lived and worked in Greece in the private sector from 1992-2005.

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  2. You are discussing the issue with an ignorant Journalist… It was never an issue of if they meet the conditions or if they cheated to get in. It is an issue that the Germany-Brussels axis wanted to create the EU to conquer and rule it… without firing a shot, only by printing Euros. It has been widely publicized that the books were cooked with swaps from Goldman Sachs while their stooge Papadimas was the president of the Greek Central bank.. They did not know ha ha ha…Ignorance will allow the stupidest argumentations. To argue from the point of ignorance is what a fool does

    “Talk sense to a Fool and he calls you Foolish.” –Euripedes

    And tons of people talk from a position of ignorance.

    “Complacent ignorance is the most lethal sickness of the soul.” –Plato

    and worse yet… they are trying to sell the idea that if Greece defaults it will be cataclysmic and people will die of hunger.. Ask Iceland how ti bucked the Banks and defaulted, and how they did to spur the recovery.. Many countries defaulted … they recover faster than they will with this vise grip the Troika is using to strangle Greece. And tons of people talk from a position of ignorance.

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  3. Pingback: #Grecia2012: Alexis Tsipras, il leader di Syriza che l’Europa teme | Valigia Blu

  4. Pingback: The age of Doom is coming | When the Crisis hit the Fan

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