People in positions of power in this country are traditionally faced with a dilemma: They can either staff their political bureaus with hardworking civil servants and technocrats, or they can hire a bunch of rogues to take care of the hard stuff.
Greece is a deeply dysfunctional and corrupt country. If you decide to go into politics or the public administration without taking the necessary equipment or precautionary measures, you certainly won’t last very long. Sooner or later you’ll find yourself neutralized by mafias both large and small. Very few “normal” people out there really have what it takes to deal with the invisible deep state of state suppliers, unionists and partisan leaders. For that reason, politicians tend to rely on what the old PASOK folk used to refer to as “foxes.”
The term was used to describe political executives who know the tricks, who can effortlessly communicate with unionists and at the same time negotiate with the hustlers that control each sector.
Foxes are always able to find a solution, whether it is within or outside the contours of the law. They know the state apparatus inside-out and they have an endless list of contacts at their disposal. Sometimes they share cultural resemblances – for example, they may come from the same village or have a soft spot for wild boar.
Meanwhile, foxes have one more advantage. They protect their political superiors, or at least they are able to convey that impression. Any normal person is scared of having to deal with the public sector, they are scared of breaking the law, stepping on the toes of some oligarch, or seeing their name in the newspapers. Foxes have a solution for every problem.
They make themselves indispensable because they give the boss an image of daily life out there and information from the underground of Greek political life. This is their speciality: to offer gossip and projections from the real world out there.
The problem of course is that the foxes do not operate on the basis of corporate rules or as members of a nongovernmental organization. If they are given free rein, before you know it they will have turned their post into a money-making machine. Only for their benefit. There are countless examples of this.
At the end of the day of course the foxes protect one another. And they easily switch allegiances from one boss to the next. They rarely get into trouble, even if they get caught red-handed. They are a very tough species and they are still in control of this country.