Tag Archives: elections

Samaras’ best time for sex

An outtake from PM Antonis Samaras’ 2012 campaign with New Democracy was leaked yesterday evening and it quickly flooded Greek Facebook & Twitter users. In it, Samaras discloses what’s the best time of the day for sex.

The fact that the video makes the otherwise strict and distant Greek politician look more human has raised suspicions that the video was not leaked by accident but on purpose.

The Greek Prime Minister prefers having sex in the morning but, unfortunately for him, most young people do it at nights…

New Democracy’s electoral base is mainly composed by older generations. I remember going to their main pre-election rally in June 2012 and almost 80% of the people there were more than 50 years old.

Which is why one of the jokes around, about why Antonis Samaras’ party hasn’t made up its mind yet on whether they will have an outdoors rally in Athens, is that they are afraid that the elders will catch a cold and won’t go to vote for their party.

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.

Pacta sunt servanda

*The agreements must be kept.
Cicero

Breach-of-employment-agreements

So we reached December, almost 6 months into Samaras’ administration. What was his main pre-election promise? Renegotiation. A sweet word which the majority of the people haven’t yet tasted. The recent Eurogroup meeting finished with a lot of criticism on whether this government, like the previous, actually negotiated anything. Yet, no one is complaining because most of the people struggle for the daily life, our daily bread. We’re thankful it’s not worse, says a Greek expression.

Beyond the scandals, one of the main reasons for the depreciation of Greek politicians is their unfulfilled promises. The thousands “I will” of old school politicians that have been quickly forgotten. When I look back the examples are countless. In 2009, Papandreou ran for election with a program for growth while New Democracy (and the Bank of Greece as it was later revealed) was saying that we were running low on cash. “There is money” was Papandreou motto, but we ended up finding out that we were hugely indebted and called the IMF. Before him, Karamanlis (2004-2009) declared the re-organisation and reconstitution of  the State. He wanted to end years of PASOK’s dominance by changing the mentality of the public sector. Instead he filled the public sector with New Democracy voters in an attempt to balance the demographics in Ministries and state enterprises. We now know that this project was financed with loans. Before him, Simitis (1996-2004) main promise was the entry into the eurozone and, as a result, an unprecedented wave of growth. The “creative accounting” as it was called got us into the european currency, the Stock Exchange collapses in a scandalous way and, as we keep finding out until these days, millions of euros went into “personal commissions” for weapons, public tenders won by Siemens, etc. The growth that we saw was just the gift wrap of the same old shit.

For the past 20 years we are living in a fake democracy where we vote for something that is really different with what we end up in our hands. It’s like getting a ticket to Mykonos but the boat strands on some dry rock island in the middle of nowhere. Yet, we disembark without complaint.

In a conversation I had recently with a friend, we were saying that the elections is some kind of contract. One side proposes to do something and the other authorises it to do it, an agreement legitimised by votes instead of signatures. However, no one is accountable for failing to fulfil the contract’s obligations. No one is punished for this systematic fraud, where it is intentional or unintentional. We don’t investigate that either. We just end up with a collective sense of injustice and anger, treating the elections more like a small circus rather than the celebration of democracy as we used to call it. We just get the next luxurious and super-fast boat that will end up at another rock island.

The other day I was surfing on the Internet and I somehow stranded on the personal website of Adonis Georgiades, a former far-right politician turned mainstream after joining New Democracy, less than a year ago. He had a banner at the top of the page which was saying “Pacta sunt servanda”. With this profound latin quote he was trying to calm the few who were actually anxious on whether Europe will keep its promise to give us the next instalment. The “153 brave ones”, as Georgiades likes to call them, of the Greek Parliament have voted the measures the troika asked, so now Europe was expected to do its bit. How would Georgiades feel if the other side of the contract simply breached the agreement? Which is something that they will do because there will be more measures in the future, despite the government’s statement that these will be the last. The announcement of new measures, is an old measure by itself. An old trick.

Hence, my dear Greek politicians of the current and future governments, the unilateral breaching of a contract means the de facto cancellation of the agreement. Therefore, when a government is elected by promising to renegotiate a situation in order to improve it and ends up by voting worse austerity measures than the ones of their predecessors, its moral legitimisation expires.

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… 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.

The People’s Front of Judea

What do you know about political pluralism? Or about political surrealism? Greece loves to call itself the cradle of democracy and, yes, politics here are not as boring as a Democrats vs Republicans kind of dilemma. No, in Greece you can choose between more than 5 leftist/communist parties, a selection that dazzles even the most aware Marxists of the world. Actually you can’t get closer in reality to the famous People’s Front of Judea excerpt from the Monty Python’s movie “The Life of Brian”.

For the coming May 6th elections Greeks cannot complain about the lack of choice any more. Get ready for this year’s Greek tour de force of political pluralism. Here is the list of the 32 candidate parties (the parties in red are all leftist, no kidding). In your face.

1. PASOK (Greek Socialist Party)

2. New Democracy

3. Communist Party of Greece

4. SYRIZA (Coalition of the Radical Left) Unified Social Front

5. LAOS (Popular Orthodox Rally)

6. Democratic Alliance

7. Social Pact

8. Independent Greeks

9. Democratic Left

10. Action – Liberal Coalition

11. Green Ecologists

12. Centrists’ Union

13. Liberals’ Party

14. Popular League – Golden Dawn

15. Dimosthenis Vergis – Greek Ecologists

16. NO (coalition of the collaborating Democratic Renaissance and Unified Popular Front – Stelios Papathemelis)

17. The “I don’t pay” movement

18. KEAN – Movement of National Resistance

19. Electoral cooperation of the Communist Party of Greece Marxist-Leninist and the Marxist-Leninist Communist Party of Greece (no seriously, they are two different parties!)

20. Anti-capitalist Left Cooperation for the Overthrow (ANTARSYA – the abbreviation means Mutiny) – Front of the Anticapitalist Revolutionary Communist Left and of Radical Ecology

21. Organization of Communist Internationalists of Greece – OKDE

22. Labour Revolutionary Party (EEK Trotskyists)

23. OAKKE – Organization for the Re-establishment of the Communist Party of Greece

24. National Unity League

25. Society of the Political Formation of Kapodistria’s Continuators

26. Pirate Party of Greece

27. Creation Again

28. Panathenean Party – PAN.KI.

29. Dignity (independent candidates)

30.  Regional Urban Development (PAA) – Nik. Kolitsis, single candidate

and now get ready for the best, the most creatice and probably the longest party name in history

31. Independent Reformist Left, Reformist Right, Reformist PASOK, Reformist New Democracy, No to War, Party Enterpise “I donate land plots, I write off debts, I save lives”, All-farmers’ Labour Movement of Greece (PAEKE)

I am not kidding and neither does PAEKE’s founder. He was a candidate in the last elections too and he had received a bit more than 1300 votes.

For the history, there is a 32nd party which was called “Tyrannicides” but the High Court prohibited the use of this title because “it implies the intention of a punishable act”. Which makes me think, following the absurdity of this madness,  that the High Court did not reject the existence of the tyrants but only prevents the expression of some people’s will to exterminate them. It’s funny how the words of such statements can be interpreted. And then, I continue with the absurdity, why isn’t the Pirate Party of Greece not implying a punishable act? Or the disobedient “I don’t pay” Movement?

Another notable progress is the Electoral cooperation of the Communist Party of Greece Marxist-Leninist and the Marxist-Leninist Communist Party of Greece. These are two completely (?) different political parties, with different structures. At a time when Leftists in Greece complained more than ever about the Left’s denial to unify its current popularity into one leftist coalition, only these two parties have managed to get united. In fact the Democratic Left, now scoring around 10% in polls, has splited from SYRIZA which also scores another 10%. And with KKE’s more than 10% one only needs to do the math in order to understand what all the bitterness is there for.

The referendum could be a big fat Greek farce

I just finished watching the developments from the G20 meeting in Cannes. So, the conclusion as it was reported by Greek media is that the now famous referendum will be on whether we wish to continue using the euro or not.

I feel very disappointed and, once more, I get the impression that this whole story about the referendum was nothing more but another political machination of the government. When George Papandreou first announced the idea of a referendum, a couple of days after the Brussels’ deal, we all thought that the referendum was going to ask the citizens whether they want the new bailout package or not. In the case of a Yes, the PASOK government would be able to continue with their policies. In the case of a No, Greece would probably go totally and disorderly bankrupt and would have to return to the drachma. Inevitably analysts were, already since Monday night, talking that we would ultimately vote about our participation in the euro zone. But when they were saying this they were having in mind that the phraseology would involve whether we want the latest deal and not whether we want to stay in euro zone. However, after the meeting with Merkel and Sarkozy, Papandreou said that the referendum will be about the euro!

What’s the difference?

  1. If you ask Greeks whether they want the Brussels’ deal, they will all rush to the polling stations and say No. I’d say for sure (otherwise nobody would panick after Monday’s night announcement by Papandreou).
  2. If you ask about whether we want to keep the euro Greeks will be blackmailed for a whole month that their savings, if any are left, will be devalued again and again until Greece becomes competitive. So the simple citizens will be tempted to vote to stay in the euro zone.
  3. In the case of an outcome that dictates our exit from the euro zone, the PASOK government will need to call for elections. There will be a relative chaotic period and after going back to the drachma we’ll see all those who got rich in the past decades through doubtful methods and have already taken their millions of euros in banks out of Greece, re-importing their euro-capital after the devaluations of the drachma in order to buy out everything for nothing.
  4. Another very possible scenario is that Greeks will realize the vanity of this referendum (if the questions is about the euro and not the Brussels’ deal) and decide to abstain en masse from the polling stations. If less than 40% of the electorate votes, the result will not bind the government to act.

So we are going to have a referendum about the euro and no-one is wondering the simple question… Why now? We were not asked about it at the end of 1990s when we were heading towards the European Monetary Union. Why are we asked now about exiting? Why now?

All these thoughts made me come to the conclusion that this whole referendum story is void. It’s nothing more but a farce.

Before we see what the exact question is, Papandreou must get a vote of confidence at the Parliament this Friday. In the meantime nothing at all is officially changed. As the Merkozi couple have reiterated in Cannes “Greece should follow its obligations” (i.e. what was agreed in Brussels last week). No matter what the referendum question is.

Update: I forgot to mention one more thing. This government has been telling the Greek people before the last round of measures that we have enough cash to keep us going until mid-November. There was a narrativen that we should do everything we can to satisfy the ECB and the IMF in order to cash their cheque for the 6th installment of the previous bailout package. Othewise we were in danger (or facing the certainty) of having no money to pay the salaries & pensions. This “accept all kinds of new measures or we’ll run out of money” blackmail did its job well (as in last June and as in May 2010). The EU/IMF has now announced that they will not disengage the installment until the referendum (planned for the 4th of December) takes place. If we don’t go bankrupt by the end of November, that will mean that the government was caught lying. Again. And this is probably the only good thing that could come out of this referendum story.