Tag Archives: clientelism

Clientelism, our new Deputy Minister

The government appointed a new Deputy Minister, his name Giorgos Georgantas. One might wonder why the crumbling government chose him, out of all their options, for the position of Deputy Minister of Education.

In civilized countries, a politician like Georgantas would have quit politics since the publication of the video that follows. In Greece, these politicians, not only they get away with it morally unpunished, but they are rewarded. Because these politcians, low-key in Athens but very active in their constituencies, are the cornerstone of Greek clientelism.

See the video from a local meeting back in 2012, just before the elections that brought New Democracy to power. Giorgos Georgantas speaks to fellow New Democracy members from the region of Kilkis in northern Greece. He gives them directions to increase their pressure to all the citizens who have benefited (sic) by New Democracy.

Yes, this guy is a Minister now.

And he was rewarded for his services to the party.

There is a high possibility that we will have elections in the next three months.

You can imagine what this guy will be doing in the run up to these elections.

At the end of the day, I should’t complain, at least some people will have a job for some months.

The Daily Threat Show and a taste of Greek clientelism

Now, most of you must have heard about the rumors. If SYRIZA wins the coming Greek elections, Greece will get out of the eurozone, the EU and might even be expelled out of the solar system. Here’s one of the official adverts by New Democracy, the right-wing chief opponent of SYRIZA.

(for English subtitles, press play, click the CC button on the YouTube player bar and choose English)

The video has been characterized as immoral for its use of children. Paradoxically, the classroom of the imaginary post-elections, SYRIZA-ruled, drachmaggedonized Greece looks much nicer than most of the classrooms in Greek schools today. The kids look healthy, no one is fainting because of malnutrition and, oh yes, they even have books! One might even think that we will be better off if we go back to the drachma.

Another video I wanted to post is a clip produced by New Democracy’s youth organization, ONNED. It’s a satire on Alexis Tsipras, SYRIZA’s leader.

So the EU and the eurozone is the expensive restaurant where we used to eat for free, enjoying fine French wine and blonde chicks in our Erasmus years. But the bill has come and we don’t want to pay it. Unfortunately, the producers have lost their contact with society. Greeks have stopped eating in fancy restaurants years ago (we’re soon to complete the 2nd year in the economic crisis) and for sure we won’t return there soon if New Democracy comes to power. For those who might think that I am a chief propagandist for SYRIZA, the only accurate thing in the video is Alexis’ swashbucklerness.

For those who are not convinced about New Democracy’s Greek old-school political practices, and about why nothing will change with the traditional parties in power no matter how much they express their regret for their old sins, here’s a video from a meeting of New Democracy members in the northern Greek region of Kilkis. The party’s chief campaigner in northern Greece, Panagiotis Psomiadis, is also present. He has a long history of accusations on corruption issues and had to step down from his post as Governor of the northern Greek region of Macedonia because of another scandal. That happened only several months after he was re-elected with 53% of the votes. If you wonder how this could be possible, see this great example of Greek state clientelism.

Guy Fawkes forgot the Greek Parliament

Guy Fawkes, third from right

Remember, remember the Fifth of November,
The Gunpowder Treason and Plot,
I know of no reason
Why the Gunpowder Treason
Should ever be forgot.
 

Last night I had the privilege to attend the vote of confidence from the galleries of the Greek Parliament. I was hoping to tweet the details but, despite the Parliament Press Office’s reassurance, there was not wi-fi in the room and cellular networks were de-activated. Anyway, I must say that the theatrical play we all saw last night belongs as a genre to the theatre of the absurd. And it is indicative of how Greek society is functioning and also of how our collective memory is working.

This country is in its worst position for decades and, still, no one has been found responsible for it. No politician, no economist, no banker, no one. However this government was allowed to continue with its policies without the slightest moral problem. We just forgot, as citizens and as a society, to continue pressing for justice on this matter. It’s because we didn’t keep remembering long enough.

Similarly, yesterday everybody seemed to have forgotten how the past week has started. We have forgotten the irresponsibility of Papandreou calling a referendum that drove world markets and leaders crazy. We have forgotten that the question changed on Wednesday and the new question was dictated by the Merkozi couple. We have forgotten that yesterday, only a few hours before last night’s vote, Papandreou had almost resigned and then simply changed his mind. Last night he had the luxury to pose like a winner, because we didn’t keep remembering long enough.

And the result was that we saw 153 MPs voting a vote of confidence for a government that promised the absurd: to resign. Where on earth has such a thing happened before? In the previous days, several MPs have stated that they will vote NO if Papandreou wouldn’t promise to resign. So George arrived to the podium, at 23:00 and not at 20:00 as his office has leaked, and gave us the promise. The marginal majority voted YES. The socialist MPs, them and only them, have voted for their government to share the power (and blame) with the rest of the parties. The rest of the parties rejected the PM’s ideas with a negative vote but will be called today, or soon, to join the new national unity government. Papandreou won. He will resign. Apart from tragedy and chaos, paradox is also a Greek word.

We must finally understand that this government, together with the parties which will eventually co-operate to produce the next government of national unity, belong and represent the establishment which brought us here. This establishment cannot correct the situation, it cannot afford the metamorphosis. They are talking about the corruption, the clientelism, the debts, the wasting of public money as if they were phenomena from another planet. As a famous Greek blogger wrote, “Greece should not only be thrown out of the euro zone. Greece should be kicked out to another planet”.

Guy Fawkes, Guy Fawkes, t’was his intent
To blow up the King and Parli’ment.
Three-score barrels of powder below
To prove old England’s overthrow;
 

Papandreou also outlined all (his) policies that the new government of national unity will have to do. It’s our obligations toward the IMF/EU/ECB in order to continue receiving the bailout package’s installments. So not only he will resign, but his ghost will still haunt the next government. It will be a government committed not to the people’s verdict but to its predecessor’s policies. Speaking of inheritance, an emotional Papandreou said yesterday “From my grandfather, I inherited just a watch. From my father I inherited nothing but the name”. And the new government will inherit his policies.

By God’s providence he was catch’d
With a dark lantern and burning match.
Holla boys, Holla boys, let the bells ring.
Holloa boys, holloa boys, God save the King!
And what should we do with him? Burn him!
 

Epilogue. I respect Maria Houkli. She is one of the most serious persons in Greek tv today. She is the anchorwoman in ANT1 TV. When the marathon coverage of the political developments finished in the early hours of Saturday she came up with this farewell to the viewers:

“Goodnight and… what else can I say? Good luck to all of us.”