The government keeps coming up against practices similar to those it used to come to power and consolidate its position. It showed absolutely no hesitation about resorting to them then because it was hungry for power and had the momentum of an untainted new player. It also enjoyed promoting the image of the “bad boy” who wasn’t bound by rules.
In politics, however, past sins find a way to haunt you. Particularly in an overemotional country that lacks balance. Officials and supporters of ruling coalition partners SYRIZA and Independent Greeks called their political opponents “traitors” and “Merkelists,” among other putdowns. Now, they are hearing the same things directed at them, and often from the people who voted for them. They bear great responsibility for this situation because they toyed with the baser instincts of people who have been exhausted by the economic crisis. They systematically fed them with hatred, phobia and anger.
But they also did something else, even before the crisis. They propagated the techniques of jeering and violent protest. They legitimized political hooliganism as an acceptable way of protesting, and their political “offspring” grew up with this logic. Everything was allowed, on the basis of their dogma – even physical violence. Now they are claiming that business groups and far-right organizations are behind similar incidents taking place today.
Did they mind when they stood side by side with the same people during their “sacred” anti-bailout struggle? And were they not the ones who carried out deplorable online campaigns against their ideological rivals? Now they are also targets and they cannot stand it.
As for the “crooked oligarchs,” it is impressive how roles have changed. In the past, these people were their interlocutors, partners, and maybe even more in their efforts to control the media landscape and create a new “healthy corruption.” Now, they are archenemies who want to destroy the government.
Having said that, I should clarify that it would be very unhealthy for our democracy if the government – this or the next – were to crumble in an unorthodox way. This government should leave power having been defeated politically, institutionally, as our democracy requires. It would be very convenient for the government to leave power shrouded in a haze of mystery, with innuendos over conspiracies and defections.
However, such a development would not benefit the country or the opposition, which would be making a grave mistake if it were to identify with such practices. If the opposition were to go down this path, it would eventually face the same problem. If we do not stop the decline of institutions and quality of democracy, we will not become a normal country.