COMMENT

Complete breakdown

By Costas Iordanidis

Greece?s political system has been shocked to the core. Enemies of SYRIZA and its chief Alexis Tsipras perceive the left-wing anti-bailout party as a major threat. Everything seems to revolve around a 38-year-old politician, a civil engineer who was elected to Parliament for the first time in 2009.

Tsipras?s precipitous rise to power was spectacular -- and it was largely not of his making.

Thirty months ago, SYRIZA won a mere 4.6 percent of the vote. In June 2010, four of its deputies, led by Fotis Kouvelis, broke away to form the splinter group Democratic Left. Both parties shared a common goal: to win enough votes to enter Parliament.

In less than two years following the breakup, SYRIZA and Democratic Left won a combined 22.9 percent. In other words, they increased their power by 500 percent -- probably a first in Europe?s parliamentary history.

The incredible increase in the electoral power of the two parties that emerged from the split within Synaspismos, the main grouping inside SYRIZA, was not accomplished due to the abilities of their leaders and party officials. Rather, it came about as the result of the collapse of a political system that dominated the country for the past 38 years.

It is obvious that this new force which has jolted the political status quo is the creation of PASOK and, to a lesser extent, New Democracy. After all, the conservatives did almost nothing to change a policy they did not believe in.

Regimes do not fall because leaders with supernatural powers suddenly attack them. They collapse because of failure to contain an abnormal situation that has been formed over the years. The disintegration of the post-1974 system, in both its political and economic dimensions, may be cause for sadness. But fostering delusions about Greece?s future is obviously pointless. We are experiencing the consequences of a total breakdown.

This is the backdrop against which Greeks are heading to the ballot. Reason mandates that people should vote for New Democracy and PASOK, thus opening the way to a coalition government. But even if this scenario came to fruition, implementing the program, in fact any program, presupposes a mechanism that doesn?t exist.

Greeks would be advised to prepare for the worst. Reason dictates that rebuilding a state in as deep a crisis as ours can only take place after a complete breakdown.

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