Posts tagged ‘Samaras’

Rain, disasters and politics


Yesterday winter paid its first visit to Greece and found it, once again, totally unprepared.

Flooded streets, cars carried by the waters for hundred of meters, damaged houses and destroyed businesses have become a common occurrence on Greek tv at every rainfall heavier than usual.

cars washed away by the flood

cars washed away by the flood

Anti – flood infrastructure, projects that have been announced and never materialized are the cause of the biblical catastrophe most acutely felt in Western Athens, the poorest area of the Greek capital and Nikea, a Piraeus suburb. Angry and desperate citizens who feel totally deserted by the central government explained that this is a repeat performance for the last 30 years or so.

The Prime Minister called an extraordinary meeting of the Civil protection Agency to coordinate the government’s actions on ways to face this natural disaster.

Unfortunately, once again, Mr. Samaras exhibited an affinity for petty politics. He excluded from the meeting  Ms. Rena Dourou, the newly-elected governor of the Attica region, the region most hit by the floods. Ms. Dourou represents SYRIZA, Mr. Samaras’ bogeyman.

Ms. Dourou was with the citizens of the region and thanked the fire department for their unstinted help. After being left out of the extraordinary meeting she stated that this is not the time for petty criticism; the communities suffering once again know that such petty political behavior is the root cause of the lack of flood protection infrastructure.

Interior Minister Argyris Dinopoulos, who visited some areas struck by the storms was booed by locals and blamed for the situation.

People left homeless by the floods are being housed by their respective municipalities.

Greek government discards its last rag of democracy

The tripartite Greek government has managed to lose its one partner who had exhibited traces of democratic and social sensitivity. Democratic Left, a split of Coalition of the Left of Movements and Ecology (SYNASPISMOS), has retired from the government and recalled its two Ministers and one deputy minister.

Mainstream media journalists were wondering why Democratic Left has “deserted” the government over the ERT (Greek Radio and Television) shut down. They conveniently forget that less than a month ago New Democracy -the right wing major government partner – rejected, not elegantly, the antiracist law tabled by Democratic Left Minister of Justice Antonis Roupakiotis. At the same time heavy criticism was addressed to the other Democratic Left Minister, Prof. Manitakis.

PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos decided to carry on with what he calls “responsible” stance and remains in the government after Prime Minister Samaras promised to evaluate and re-draw the government plans.

In the meantime, the Ministry of Economy which has been appointed as the ERT manager until its “restructure”,  has asked for the evacuation of the ERT headquarters. The employees’ reply was a call to everyone who opposes this scheme to guard the grounds and for Sunday the 26th to be international mobilisation day against the closing down of ERT. The ERT Mansion in Agia Paraskevi is run by the ERT employees with the support of thousands of union members, artists who have worked for ERT, supporters of the National Radio and Television network and other citizens shocked by the abrupt closing down of the state run company.


Friday night found thousands watching Vassilis Papakonstantinou, top rock performer, giving a free concert in the ERT gardens and members of the Actors’ Union reading poems and performing impromptu monologues, opera singers singing arias and a special song dedicated to the Taksim demonstrators.




2013 wishes for the world..

Greek PM looking for investors

Greek PM looking for investors

I celebrated the arrival of 2013 abroad and therefore felt that reporting “from a Greek angle” was inappropriate at the time. On the other hand it was amazing how at home one feels all over Europe nowadays. Television and internet have erased distances, English has erased the language barrier and Ι felt like a member of the European village.

Coming back in a one and a half hour flight after a two weeks absence all seemed the same.

Scandals gallore in the political scene, a heavier repression attitude towards citizens’initiatives and a radiant Prime Minister bragging that he had managed to get the loan he was supposed to get six months before.

The most inspiring aspect of my return was reading the cartoons in the newspapers. Most of them are untranslatable so I chose one you can relate to.

Thessaloniki International Trade Fair: no news is not good news.

The 77th Thessaloniki International Trade Fair opened its gates today in a different atmosphere than normal. Since its creation the Trade Fair had become the forum for the annual economic policy statement. The Government would announce its plans for the next year and the opposition would comment on it.
This year, Prime Minister Antonis Samaras inaugurated the Fair at 10 in the morning, met with the organizing committees and flew back to Athens. Instead of the customary keynote speech he made a brief statement assuring once again that the measures to be announced are the last ones. The usual press Conference never took place.
This adds to the feeling of insecurity and fear prevalent in Greek society. The working people are watching with awe the tripartite government discussing endlessly the austerity measures that will yield the 11,5 billion Euros required to satisfy the public debt.
The General Confederation of Greek Workers organized a rally in Thessaloniki while PAME, the Unions affiliated to the Communist Party of Greece, organized a parallel one!
Things are peaceful but the citizens of Thesaloniki were upset at seeing their city become a “fortress”.

New Greek government of unknown composition

It has finally been decided that a Greek government can be appointed since three of the political parties have agreed to support it. Right wing New Democracy, Social democratic PASOK and left wing Democratic Left have met and now the discussion has moved to its composition.

Mr. Fotis Kouvelis, leader of the Democratic Left has just left Mr. Samaras office in Parliament and stated that his party’s participation in the new government was decided by the large majority of the Parliamentary group and that their main concern now is the kind of policies to be implemented and not the government’s composition.

On the PASOK front, Mr. Venizelos’proposal for a technocrats’ government has not met with enthousiasm in the party’s Parliamentary group. According to journalists’ reports well known MPs have argued against the leader’s proposal.
Discussions are in progress.
These developments have left a bitter taste to the citizens since the denial of the same parties to form a government after the last elections has not been fully justified.

The day after, and the day after, and the day after … Greek elections

May 6 is already two days old. Greek elections were unusually quiet. No impressive rallies – actually no rallies at all by the two (formerly big) political parties. No quarrels in the coffee shops or bus stops. The Greek people have finally agreed on something: politicians (in general – those of PASOK and New Democracy in particular) are not to be trusted and should be taught a lesson. But then who do they vote for? Stability with the “evil they know” or adventure with “the new kid on the block”?

The electoral result is the graphic representation of the people’s confusion and inability to decide. The turn out was impressive at the ballots proving the deep despair and the need to find a way out of the crisis.

Right wing supporters could chose between New Democracy – the largest and oldest right wing party, established by Karamanlis right after the fall of the military dictatorship. Antonis Samaras promised to “renegotiate the latest agreement” but has already sent a letter to the EU governments assuring them that he will apply the austerity measures asked by the “agreement” he promises to renegotiate.

Two more right wing formations – splits from New Democracy- asked for the people’s vote in an “anti-austerity” direction. “Independent Citizens”, led by Mr. Kammenos, a New Democracy MP who left the mother party two months ago, managed to attract a large number of votes while the Greek Orthodox Rally (LAOS) of Mr. Karatzaferis did not reach the 3% threshold and is not in Parliament.

The amazing performance of Golden Dawn – a neo- nazi nationalist party and its leader Mr. Mihaloliakos has been attributed to many factors which we shall look into at another post.

PASOK has paid the price for its shamefully inadequate handling of the crisis as well as for the scandals that have been recently uncovered (former defence Minister and his wife are in jail awaiting charges).

Left wing supporters had a different dilemma: vote for the left but which left? The Communist Party of Greece made it abundantly clear that they do not want to govern unless they gained an overwhelming victory to prove that the people were decidedly on their side. On the other hand, SYRIZA – Coalition of Radical Left, is made up of more than 20 different left wing groups and subjects and its leader, Alexis Tsipras, has just turned 38. To a left wing audience made up of resistance veterans and their families, strict orthodox communists trained to follow orders without arguing, eurocommunists trained to argue to exhaustion about ideology, youth who cut their political teeth with the Social fora and are more activists than politicians SYRIZA seems a fascinating, potential home but without much promise of a safe haven. Tsipras has been characterised as “too young”, “too arrogant”, “too idealistic” but also as a left wing person who practices what he preaches: He was a member of KNE (youth of the Communist Party) before joining SYNASPISMOS (Coalition of the left of movements and ecology) and becoming its Youth Secretary. He is a civil engineer, has recently signed a civil marriage contract with his highschool sweetheart and had a child whom he refused to christen.

Antonis Samaras apprised the State President of his inability to form a government. Alexis Tsipras, the second winner, is at the moment discussing the situation with other political leaders striving for a government in an anti-memorandum pro-growth direction. He has already had a positive reply from Fotis Kouvelis, leader of the Democratic left.

Mr. L.Papademos front runner in the quest for a Greek Prime Minister

At midnight, the time ghosts start roaming, Mr. Papandreou called Mr. Samaras and suggested Mr. Lucas Papademos as the Prime Minister to head the coalition, salvation or transitional government still to be formed. According to news reports Mr. Papandreou contacted Mr. Papademos who accepted the nomination under certain conditions. Then Mr.Papandreou spoke with Mr. Samaras and the outcome was that Mr.Samaras will speak directly with Mr. Papademos to discuss the terms.

Mr. Papademos asked that the new government states unequivocably its acceptance of the October agreement, that New Democracy leading personalities take part in the government and that the elections day should be more flexible, by about a fortnight, if necessary. On the other hand, he also stated that he has no problem with the present personnel of the Finance Ministry carrying on.

Mr.L.Papademos’name had been mentioned before from journalists and according to a leak from the PASOK side his candidacy had been rejected by the New Democracy leadership. This leak was vehemently denounced by the New Democracy but it is a sign of what kind of “co-operation” we can expect.