Tag Archives: elections 2012

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.

Watering down Golden Dawn

Lots of friends and readers of this blog have been asking me to write something about the rise of the far-right in Greece. I repeatedly postponed such a post because I wanted to write something long, well-documented and details. But, hey, what can be said with several thousands words is now squeezed in a couple of seconds. Here they are. No further comment needed.

All political parties have condemned the attack. Golden Dawn issued a statement saying that Ilias Kasidiaris, who apart from an MP also happens to be the party’s press officer, was provoked by Liana Kanelli. Mr Kasidiaris was initially provoked when Rena Dourou of the radical left-wing Syriza party mentioned his alleged involvement in an armed robbery in 2007. His trial for this incident was supposed to take place yesterday but it was postponed for June 11.

The Athens prosecutor has ordered an arrest warrant against Kasidiaris but he is still at large. I wonder how he’ll appear in his pre-election campaign.

Nikos Mihaloliakos and Eleni Zaroulia (his wife, wearing a German cross ring) arrive at the Greek Parliament on their first day as MPs. The Parliament was dissolved within 48 hours to call for another round of elections.

Since their 7% in the last elections, I was always saying that their media gaffes would kill them. The biggest one was with their first press conference the evening of elections’ day. Until this one. Now the question is, will they ever manage to enter the Greek Parliament again?

The Daily Threat Show – If SYRIZA wins… 3

Dimokratia 31/05/2012

Headline: Alexis’ Soviets

The Daily Threat Show – If SYRIZA wins… 2

Here are some internet memes on the possibility of a SYRIZA victory in the June 17 elections. They’re all from Greek TV channels.

SKAI TV – Nikos Evaggelatos presenting his news show

The headline says: The Earth might exit the solar system if SYRIZA forms a government

Mega Channel – Olga Tremi presenting the evening news

The headline says: The coming of the Antichrist is inevitable if we exit from the eurozone

Mega Channel – Olga Tremi presenting the evening news

The headline says: Bloodthirsty extraterrestrial zombies will be sucking our blood for a thousand years and then dead alive rapists will sodomize the carcasses of our soulless bodies if we exit from the eurozone.

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.

Greece leaning more and more to the Left

I just read an interesting opinion poll that tells some of the developments in post-election Greece. It’s main element is that SYRIZA’s popularity has grown in less than a week since the elections. The poll was carried out by MARC and I found it here. So here are the numbers accompanied by some comments of mine.

SYRIZA’s leader, Alexis Tsipras.

SYRIZA’s popularity, according to the poll, is now standing as high as 23,8%, the highest the party has enjoyed since its birth. In the recent elections, SYRIZA scored 16,78% of the votes. The rise in popularity can be attributed to the fact that an alternative government (other than PASOK and New Democracy) seemed possible after Sunday’s results. In addition it’s possible that the continuation of the small-party political games that PASOK and New Democracy have been playing for the past two decades have radicalized people a bit more. If SYRIZA had a more clear and realistic plan to get out of the crisis then this rise would definitely have been bigger.

According to MARC’s poll, New Democracy comes second in preference with 17,4% (they won the elections with 18,85%) and PASOK is down to 10,8% (from a mediocre 13,18% in the elections). Independent Greeks gather 8,7%, the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) 6%, Golden Dawn 4,9% and the Democratic Left has 4,2%.

LAOS, the Green Party, Creation Again, Democratic Alliance and Action Party are all below the 3% threshold needed to enter the Greek Parliament.

An interesting aspect of this poll is this rare question that was added to the questionnaire: If you knew the result in advance, which party would you vote for?

Now, in a linear time world, it might look a bit absurd to ask this question unless voters have access to the technology of time travel. However, the results support my comment a couple of paragraphs above which is that many Greeks have never until now believed that a leftist government could be possible, especially through elections. Almost two generations grew up watching PASOK and New Democracy rotating in power.

Hence, 23,2% of those asked replied that they would vote for SYRIZA. The people who got afraid of SYRIZA’s rise in the elections (and of the possibility of a leftist government) were much less than what I would personally expect. This can be seen in the 19,6% of the interviewees who answered that, if they knew the result of the elections, they would vote for New Democracy (i.e. only 0,75% more than what New Democracy actually received in Sunday’s ballot boxes). Funnily, or tragically for some, PASOK would be voted only by 12,5% (as if the PASOK voters themselves wished a greater defeat of their party which got 13,18% in the recent elections). Another interesting fact is that some people did indeed get scared of the rise of extreme rightist Golden Dawn, especially after this week’s publicity which included a Golden Dawn press conference where one of their members asked journalists to stand up when their leader would appear in the press room. Speaking of it, here’s the video from the press conference, including the leader’s fiery speech, all with english subtitles:

So, the people who would vote for Golden Dawn, If they knew the elections’ result in advance, were down to 5,9% (from 6,97% that they got in the elections).

There were a few more questions but they are a bit dull and I can’t be bothered. I’ll just go and take a nap now.