On Chrysi Avgi, democracy, elections, tax evasion, KKE

On Chrysi Avgi, democracy, elections, tax evasion, KKE

Greek democracy

Once again Mr Pangalos has reminded us all of just how much we have benefited over the past years from our successive governments and our entry into the euro. Unfortunately, it seems that our politicians, like too many Greek citizens, consider that large amounts of cash and properties lead to happiness. Many of us feel that this is a nouveau riche attitude which belongs in a third world country where the population is divided into the 'haves' and the 'have-nots'. Mr Papademos summed up the situation in Greece in one paragraph in his letter to Barroso where he stated the problems in Greece as ?The long-standing structural weaknesses of the public administration and, more broadly, the general government sector have been a source of misallocation of resources, diminished effectiveness of policy implementation, impediments to private sector entrepreneurship and, indeed, social injustice.?

We have watched over the past years as Greece has become a disorganized state with a corrupt system. Now we read of businesses closing and our youth leaving for foreign parts; but this isn't a new phenomenon. Many of us over the past 10 years have watched our factories close and waved good-bye to our children. The problem here in Greece is that if we are honest we do not have a democratic system. Many of us would be far happier living in a country which grants us a decent welfare state, a fair and just legal system, and with a public structure based on what you know rather than who you know. Everyday life here is stressful and any intelligent person living here knew that one day the bubble would burst and the consequences would be tragic. Our president has no authority as this was removed by Andreas Papandreou. The church operates as a business and has also been involved in scandals. We have no royal family to act as a figurehead for our country so that the governing party, and therefor the prime minister of the day, has total rule. One who has total authority is very likely to abuse his position. This phrase was used by the British historian Lord Acton: «Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

Perhaps we should build on the suggestion raised by Dora Bakoyannis that the total of MPs be cut and install a second house similar to the senate with representatives from each area voted by the general public. These ladies and gentlemen should be professionals and technocrats and not full-blown politicians. Then restore to the president his rights so that the Greek Parliament cannot introduce laws such as immunity from prosecution.

Ann Baker

Guaranteed to fail

Thank you Mr. Malkoutzis for highlighting the absurdity of the situation: Mr. Samaras promising more tax cuts in a country of massive tax evasion, and Mr. Venizelos's «personal guarantee» of success from a person who, having washed his hands of his personal role for over thirty years in helping craft the system that drove the country to the ditch, will now save it.

It's too bad that modern Greece does not have ostracism as part of its arsenal to deal with failed leaders and horrible citizens.

Fotis Stamatopoulos

Thomsen hits the nail on the head with tax evasion comments

Let's get this fact out there right away: the Greek government's debt is not a result of the so-called laziness of southern Europeans, nor is it a result of high spending, nor is it a result of oppressive taxes.

The problem has always been corruption, which led to the mass tax evasion. In fact, the government would have run surpluses for the past 10 years if it had dealt with the tax evasion problem, and we wouldn't be here in the first place.

The government must first and foremost deal with this problem if it is to ever get out of the hole. No austerity package is needed, nor will it work, despite what those in Germany, the media and the troika will insist; it hasn't in Greece or Ireland or Spain or Italy or anywhere for that matter. Greeks are right to oppose this attack on Greek sovereignty, and are right to oppose the possible PASOK/ND coalition government for this reason.

The other parties, however, have said little to nothing on this problem.

Michael Papadopoulos New York

Where is George

Maybe somebody should go and ask the IMF. They were happy to do a deal behind closed doors with him.

The people of Greece were showered with gifts and now the government wants them back to give to the EU (Germany).

IMO this is the opportunity that Greece has been waiting for and it probably will be its only opportunity get out of the quagmire. Get rid of the cronies. If you want to survive and give yourself some sort of future get rid of the clans that are running the country. People of Greece get with the times and go forward.

As for the countries that took the funds from these cronies that belonged to Greece and the people of Greece, I hope they have not assisted in anything criminal because they will have a lot to answer for.

The major political parties have to be kidding themselves that they are going to be governing Greece. I have not come across anybody that wants them.

I would like to see Greece stop this senseless destruction and injury and save their energy for the elections. Where it will count. A lot of hard work ahead. There is no other choice.

Go Greeks you can do it.

Sam Kostoulias

The outdated KKE

Since 1974 KKE is still polling anywhere from 5%-10%. The diminutive party secretary Ms Papariga continually fires broadside at all opposition parties including SYRIZA.

Communism is a failed system that even the Soviet Union has dismantled. The last bastions of communist states -- Cuba, Laos, Vietnam and North Korea -- are on their last legs. The average monthly wage in Cuba is $20 US dollars per month.

Ms Papariga calls the Troika barbaric on workers' rights. You mean mass killings, forced labor (Gulags) and deportations under communist rule were better. In her headquarters in Perissos she often gives interviews with a portrait of Lenin in the background. This is the man that set up the cheka secret service to eliminate all opposition to Communist rule. Her other hero, Stalin holds the world record for mass killings of his own people.

It's time that all Greek political parties start firing broadside back at her. Even the outspoken Alexis Tsipras is scared to talk back or criticize her. Ms Papariga has had it too good for too long. She is currently on 120,000 euros per year to oppose everything -- not a bad wage for a Communist.

George Salamouras

Re: Chrysi Avgi

I don't agree with the comment made by Mr Malkoutzis in his article ?Guaranteed to fail? that the rise of Chrysi Avgi is enough to make one sick in the stomach. In a so-called democracy a party that is polling anywhere from 3.5% to 7% in most polls has been blacklisted by the Greek media establishment. The media labels them as Nazis, neo-fascists, right-wing extremists and so forth. On their website they call themselves Greek nationalists.

What does CA stand for? The expulsion of all undocumented illegal immigrants, and in recent polls 80% of Greeks agree. The tightening of Greek borders, the prosecution of corrupt politicians, the lifting of political immunity, to halve the size of Greek Parliament, No to FYROM calling itself ?Macedonia,? the withdrawal of Turkish troops from Cyprus, the establishment of a strong police force with the powers to do their duties, giving jobs to Greeks not illegal foreigners, the clean-up of Athens streets from crime and filth, no to Greece in the eurozone. I think most Greeks would agree on most of these issues.

It is not CA on the streets today throwing Molotov cocktails and burning buildings; it's the far left, SYRIZA, KKE and the self-styled anarchists. Mr Malkoutzis, there is an old saying, if you don't like them then don't vote for them, but don't deny them their right to free speech in the birthplace of western democracy.

CA would not be here today if PASOK and ND had done their jobs properly in the last 38 years.

George Salamouras

Journalist's response: Since the article is not about Chrysi Avgi and the reference I make to this party is brief and has the purpose of providing some context, I will try to keep my response in the same vein: brief and with the purpose of providing context. The media has not labelled Chrysi Avgi neofascist or anything else -- the party's beliefs and the actions of their members have defined the way CA is defined in press reports. You say CA define themselves as «Greek Nationalists». They may well do but their ideology points to something much more sinister. Perhaps you have overlooked the fact that the party's symbol is a play on the Swastika or that CA uses the red and black of the Nazi party. Perhaps you have not noticed the Nazi figures that have adorn their party magazine -- you might have missed the issue dedicated to Rudolf Hess or the edition with Adolf Hitler saluting his troops on the front page. And since we're on the subject of Nazi salutes, perhaps it passed you by that CA's leader Nikos Michaloliakos -- the party's first elected official -- performed exactly such a greeting at a meeting of the Athens municipal council ( Perhaps you were not aware that Michaloliakos is often flanked by armed guards who force their way into municipal council meetings without permission ( CA has also barged its way into a number of municipal council meetings where it has no elected representatives. While CA may not be on the streets throwing Molotovs or burning buildings as you say, its supporters have been linked by police and NGOs (not the media) to vicious attacks on immigrants. Michaloliakos is also the only party leader to have directly advocated an attack on a politician -- just a few days ago, in fact ( I suppose this is a form of nationalism, although it's what is usually called national socialism. So, yes I have no reservation in admitting that the prospect of people who idealize nazism and who adopt its worst traits -- especially in a country where fascists were responsible for untold death and destruction -- does make me sick to my stomach. There can be no question that in a democracy parties and people should be free to express their views and voters should be free to support who they want but isn't it ironic that parties like CA hide behind the shield of democracy while consistently abusing democratic principles and seeking to deny others their democratic rights? For a more comprehensive take on what implications the rise of CA has for people living in Greece, I recommend this article:

Ferries in trouble

It never surprises me when I read of Greek companies in trouble. Especially those connected with one of Greece's major earners -- tourism. For whatever reason, and there are probably many, legitimate or not, tourist will not expose themselves to uncertainty when planning their holidays. This recession is global and we all have to spend wisely. If it's a case of «do we go to Greece and take a chance on getting stranded or do we go elsewhere and avoid the worry,» it's an easy decision to make. We have a small house on Crete. I am retired and can get out there when I like. For the last three years I have been subjected to delays and cancellations because of industrial action by one faction or the other and it's beginning to irk! Living in the UK it would perhaps be better to abandon Greece and buy somewhere over the channel and avoid the Adriatic and the waters around Greece altogether?

Jim Pratt


I'm reading eK while killing time waiting to leave for the airport, on our way to Athens. Yes, we're coming again, as we have done for the last fifteen years or so. Even though we should know better. This time it took considerable hesitation and discussion, but we love the place, and so... But our usual enthusiasm is not there. We are afraid of and annoyed by:

(1) Stupid strikes and random violence. Burning down a bank with people in it is no laughing matter.

(2) The increase of unsavory characters, illegal and others.

(3) Rude people in restaurants and especially in museums and archaeological sites. Not to mention incompetence. Yes, I know, exceptions abound, and I have a lot of nice stories too.

(4) Ridiculous opening times.

(5) Places that are closed when a big sign says that they are open.

(6) Dirt, trash, and graffiti.

(7) The difficulty of finding something better to eat than tourist junk food. Ever noticed that in small places and out of season the food is much more varied and better?

(8) Idiotic drivers on the main highways.

(9) Large blue signs explaining how much EU money went into refurbishing a site that is padlocked and overgrown.

(10) Beaches littered with cigarette butts.

(11) The absence of any attempt to enforce any rule on the book. But don't worry, we're still coming. Go figure...

Karl Audenaerde

Falmouth, MA

Re: 'To love your country'

A wonderful article, it hits at the heart of Greece's problems and at the heart of people like us of the diaspora who have made big sacrifices to come back and live in Greece but found it very difficult. Even though we lived there at the height of the country's prosperity in the 80s and 90s it was always an upward battle to fit in. The sunshine is not enough; there is sunshine in many countries.

Greeks in Greece have no community spirit, there is only a greed for self-indulgence and at the same time self-loathing. The whole population needs mass psychoanalysis.

We have a home in Athens and we still spend time there but we don't have to put up with the misery that is the Greek reality; we are in that very privileged position to just take what is good and leave the crap behind for the locals to deal with.

I hope that the younger generations will learn from this terrible situation that Greece is in because if they don't there is no saving the beautiful land of the gods and the sunshine.

Theodora Kitinas-Gogos

Melbourne, Australia

Elections: leading to what exactly?

It seems abundantly clear now that Greece after the elections will be much the same as Greece before the elections.

The only thing missing will be Papademos. I didn't much like the man and he had a thankless task, but he was a point of stability in a Greek sea of anarchy. Now he is gone and he will probably be quite glad to be relieved of such thankless responsibilities.

What is the point of these elections? Sovereignty has already been ceded. Democracy has to all intents and purposes been revoked by Berlin. Is it that Greeks and maybe other Europeans need elections to distract them from the realities? The theatre of politics has returned to being exactly that; theatre. A spectacle devoid of power and meaning.

What will Berlin think once the process is over and the Papademos stability has gone? Elections in Greece generally produce either an ?elected oligarchy? to paraphrase the British Lord Quintin Hogg's ?elective dictatorship,? or anarchy. Followed by military intervention paid for by the GP.

The last 30 years saw an elected oligarchy play revolving doors with the Greek electorate. Now they are either gone or on the way out. No one will give them 'oute tin paramikrin empistosynin' ever again, except for a few wretched die-hards. The fringe parties probably couldn't run a proverbial piss-up in a brewery as the British say.

So what's left?

At least the EIB seems to have some clarity of insight with their drachma (or other non-euro currency) clauses -- not just should Greece fail, but should the eurozone fail. They are the first official euro institution to legalise the concept of euro-failure. So while Herr Weidmann continues to fiddle and sing the chorus 'Greece will never leave the euro', others are making more concrete preparations in the opposite direction.

Will Greece become a bubbling cauldron into which anything can enter and add to the explosive mix, or will we see a repeat not of the April 21st but of the 4th of August? Even among nationalists Metaxas's August 4 regime seems to have more of a heroic and dignified aura about it than the Colonel's regime of April 21. Would that Greece didn't need either to be repeated, but Greeks have made their bed with foreign assistance and now they must lie in it.

Philip Andrews

Re: 'Guaranteed to fail' by Malkoutzis

A respected financial analyst's report is making quite the stir after her recent visit to Athens.

She interviewed a young Greek who had just opened a cafe/bookstore. It took this entrepreneur a year to get a permit yet she had still to buy her customer's coffees down the street and wasn't allowed to sell books after 6PM! Bureaucracy gone nuts. Sorry, but your lovely country is so screwed. Throw PASOK and ND out on May 6, buckle down, get back to work, and let the birthplace of democracy begin anew.

A Philhellene

Valid economic politics

In Holland when political parties present the economic part of their (new) political program, they do have this part calculated concerning validity and effects by the CPB, an independent professional organization, before presenting this program. Is there such a tradition in Greece?

Hans van der Schaaf