Archive for April, 2012

Will May 7 dawn be golden in Greece?

In a desperate effort to chain himself and his party  to power Mr. Chryssohoides, Minister for the protection of the citizen (an elegant term meaning  ministry of public order..), has announced the creation of detention centers for illegal immigrants. The very real problem of illegal immigration, a problem Greece shares with the rest of Europe, has become – without ever being named – the central problem of the Greek crisis to the delight of the exreme right neo nazi group “Golden Dawn”. Rising unemployment, poverty and criminality are blamed on the “xenoi” – the foreigners. The Greek public has been trying to comprehend all the new terms of PSI, haircuts, bonds, British law and so on. This latest, subtly suggested reply to the crisis is much more easily understandable.

Foreign workers who visit the social security system are faced with an impatient and aggressive manner by their co-workers. It is easier to blame them than the State which has shrunk the services and the civil servants sector resulting in long hours at endless cues. The lack of nursing stuff at hospitals leads people to look askance at all foreign workers (legal immigrants as well as illegal) who try to get the medical care they pay for.

This situation nurtures the populist demagogy of the extreme right. The power thirsty parties that have governed Greece since World War II pave the way for the entry into Parliament and the central political stage of a neo fascist party. One more crime they are committing in their efforts to “save Greek economy”.



Greece – uphill on the way to elections

Easter is over and the short pre-electoral period is well under way. Politics has been a major Greek sport for ages – literally. Soccer and tavli come second with caffe frappe taking third place. We Greeks often manage to combine all three in one and then it is a real feast.

This pre-electoral period finds Greek citizens more perplexed than usual. They all know (or at least claim that they do) that they don’t want to vote for either PASOK or New Democracy; they consider these two parties as jointly responsible for the present situation. On the other hand, with a 15% exception, that’s what’s been hapenning for a long time. After democracy we seem to have invented a new system: partitocracy. Well, not actually invented, but adopted and refined it to an art. Now, faced with more than 13 (unlucky number) parties to choose from we are at a loss. TV presenters have chat shows with more than 6 candidates: they manage to show them all by opening windows on our screens that seem to get smaller every day as the number of candidates increases.

The left wishes to govern and favours a multi party government. The possibilities are slim especially since the Communist party refuses to cooperate with any other party.

The far right has made its first steps in the political stage at last year’s local government elections and is now on the verge of acquiring the necessary 3% to enter the national Parliament.

PASOK and New Democracy are promising all the things they have not managed to accomplish since World War II.

The Greens are performing very well but their voice is not heard since the citizens are trapped in the dilemma:”Do you want a government or new elections?’ at the best and “If you don’t vote for one of the two big parties anarchy will reign” at the worst.

The present Government is playing dangerous games with the immigrants’issues and the rising criminality while unemployment is rampant.

Politicians of all colours find it difficult to hold rallies or approach the people – they are often verbally attacked and in some cases physically attacked with water bottles. So far the only injury has been to the politicians’pride but Greek society is steadily poisoned by this lack of values and seriousness.

The role of the mass media is becoming apparent even to the most naive. People avoid television like the plague. It is the social media for the youth and the coffee shops for the elderly that provide them with information.

Spring is in the air and even though money is tight the people cannot stay at home. The crisis is providing the opportunity to return to simpler and far more enjoyable forms of entertainment like card playing on the balconies, walks and chats in the street, souvlaki, beer and politics  at the neighbourhood souvlatzidiko.

Could this be the profit of the crisis? That we shall re-discover our humanity? The price is high if the present immigration trend continues. But at least we shall be getting something back.