COMMENT

Self-destructing political system

By Costas Iordanidis

It finally seemed as if we had found some peace of mind. The vast majority of Greek MPs chose to abstain from festivities on August 15, also known as Assumption Day, thus sparing us from the cacophony of vacuous political statements in the midst of the summer season.

Life will of course soon settle back into its normal course. And the familiar protagonists of public life will resurface on center stage. Some of them will once again hand out promises of economic recovery and well-being against the gloomy predictions uttered by their political rivals. Nothing but the same old shadow-boxing always aimed at saving the nation.

Hopefully, Prime Minister Antonis Samaras will have realized by now that his government can in fact achieve a lot more than it has so far with only half the amount of energy and effort as long as it keeps a cool head and avoids embarrassing blunders like the ENFIA property tax fiasco. We have had enough of the scaremongering, polarization, election talk and pointless attempts to forge a fresh division within society that can only cause harm on all sides. The role of the government is not to trade blows with the main opposition party – even less so when the opposition is represented by the politically shallow party that is SYRIZA.

For his part, leftist leader Alexis Tsipras is employing all sorts of tricks, such as his recent visit to the monastic community on Mount Athos. Tsipras has obviously failed to see that the voters who flocked to his SYRIZA party did not necessarily do so in reaction to the brutal austerity measures. The repeated debunking of illusions cultivated by successive administrations over the past four years or so has undermined the political system as we knew it until May 2010. Because there can be no other explanation for the fact that although Greece was not the only nation in the European south to be hit by the economic crisis, it was still alone in seeing its political system come undone.

Greece was the only state to see a radical left party – SYRIZA – and a far-right party – Golden Dawn – make record gains, and all that at a time when the conservative party was led by Antonis Samaras, a man with right-wing, patriotic credentials.

The failure of the Greek elite began to seal the fate of Greece when it became a member of the EEC and continued to do so after the country joined the eurozone. After the crisis struck, the political system undermined itself further. It destroyed the Greek middle class in a bid to save a ruling elite that emerged during the post-dictatorship era.

The new season will hopefully see common sense prevail over cheap politicking. A pleasant thought, albeit most probably an exercise in futility.

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