A new political party has been formed in Greece. It’s official inauguration took place last Monday at a hotel in Athens. Its name is “National Unity League” and is composed by… (guess what! … ok I know, you’ve already read the title) retired army officers!
There has been enough talk in Greece (and abroad) during the past months about a possible coup d’ etat (see end of post “Greece spirals out of control“) but it seems that the politicized members of our military have found a bypass to the internationally chilling idea of a dictatorship.
The new political formation is composed mainly by officers who graduated from Greece’s Military Academy (Scholi Evelpidon) in 1981. They have stated their intention to participate in the coming elections. The inauguration took place on the national Armed Forces’ Day. Their logo is shaped by three parallel coloured lines which represent the land, the air and the sea. According to their initial announcements, these three elements symbolize our national sovereignty which are challenged today by the actions and the neglects of the current political establishment.
- The logo of National Unity League (Σύνδεσμος Εθνικής Ενότητας)
The naming of the new party is not coincidental with the Military League, a movement in the ranks of the Greek Military created back in 1908 which, in a similar situation for the country, intervened in Greek politics through the Goudi coup a year later. It never imposed a military dictatorship but managed to put an end to an older rotten political system, brought down two governments until Eleftherios Venizelos (yeah, just like the name of the Athens airport!) came to power and begun a wide program of reforms which greatly modernized Greece. The popular support for that movement was impressive and, in the end, it was one of the reasons that it worked without having the stain of a “dictatorship”.
The stamp of the Military League
The National Unity League is a vague connotation which wants to remind Greeks that a new leader can be brought forward (like Venizelos in 1909) who can help the country overcome the multiple troubles it now faces. Of course, societies in a state of a crisis need something more than simple solutions. They need a Messiah. Which is why this association to the Military League might find a fertile ground in many naive Greeks. Allow me to be a bit pessimist over here. A quick reading about the Military League would be informative. One of the first conspirators of the Military League, back in 1908, was Theodoros Pangalos who continued in a long military and political career and gave Greece his grandson, our current Deputy Prime Minister, also called Theodoros Pangalos. Another (non-commissioned) officer of the team was Nikolaos Plastiras who, through a similar career, founded the Centrists’ Union party after WWII and formed a coalition government together with Sofoklis Venizelos (the son of Eleftherios) and George Papandreou (the grandfather of George Papandreou who resigned just recently). A nice, warm, family atmosphere, this is what Greek politics are.
Anyway, back to the National Unity League. Here are some of the basic proposals the new party has to offer:
- To carry out an audit of the Greek public debt in order to estimate what percentage of it is odious and, thus, write it off.
- To exploit the advantages of the fact that 90% of our external debt is under Greek law.
- To claim the repayment of the compulsory loan that Greece gave to Germany during the country’s German occupation in WWII.
- To restructure the public sector, having as a goal the improvement of its efficiency and not only its horizontal reduction of its personnel.
- To reorganize it according to the principles of having the smallest number of employees that is necessary and of allocating them logically.
- To introduce a common salary system for the core and wider public sector (the Ministries as well as publicly owned companies & public utility enterprises), to reduce bureaucracy with the help of IT and the internet, to abolish all non-productive public organizations, to merge different public services which have the same scope and to evaluate continuously the performance of public servants.
- To cut drastically the cost of public administration.
- To abolish the abusive rights of certain professional groups.
- To produce from scratch new budgets for spending.
- To introduce a penal responsibility for the managers of public administration.
Politically the first three points are enough to describe what they would like to do if they would be called to run the country. The other seven bullet points are plain common sense and I guess that most of my foreign readers would probably think “Are these Greeks crazy? Haven’t they done that already?”
There is a 12-member managing board currently running the party, headed by retired officer Nikos Alikakos. Funnily, former PASOK MP and Minister during the 1980s, Lefteris Verivakis
was booed when he tried to greet the crowd during the inauguration. He used to be a close associate of Andreas Papandreou 30 years ago but he lately had an ideological rightward turn and he even greeted the crowd of Makis Voridis’ Hellenic Front at the party’s 2nd Congress in 2005
. Verivakis then said that “the distinction is not anymore between Right and Left, but between patriots and internationalists” and later highlighted the importance of the patriotic powers in the struggle against globalization.
Now you can make up your own mind on what sort of people gather in these places.
Posted in Politics
Tagged Andreas Papandreou, Athens, coup d'etat, dictatorship, Eleftherios Venizelos, General Theodoros Pangalos, George Papandreou, George Papandreou (grandfather), Germany, Goudi coup, Greece, Greek Armed Forces, Greek Military Academy, Greek politics, Greek public debt, Hellenic Front, Σύνδεσμος Εθνικής Ενότητας, Lefteris Verivakis, logo, Makis Voridis, Military League, National Unity League, Nikolaos Plastiras, Nikos Alikakos, Papandreou family, PASOK, public administration, public sector, public servants, Sofoklis Venizelos, the German occupation loan, Theodoros Pangalos, WWII