It could be labeled “the Greek paradox.” The West is mired in an unprecedented institutional crisis. The United States is led by a president whose method of reaching decisions is unclear. Donald Trump is consistently inconsistent, he provokes unnecessary friction with traditional US allies and lashes out at media people and major institutional players, describing them as “enemies of the state.” Accustomed as we may have grown to the madness of the Trump era, we are inevitably concerned with the future direction of the world’s most powerful democracy.
Meanwhile, we used to admire Britain for its institutions, its predictability and its respect for tradition. In recent years, the country has been locked in an escalating crisis under the stewardship of its elite establishment. Developments in the UK are extremely upsetting. There are elements of opportunism and irresponsibility and the prospects of a happy ending seem rather grim.
As for Italy, it never really drew admiration for its stability nor its politicians. The Mediterranean country is also experiencing a drama like never before, as politics looks uncomfortably similar to the reality trash programs that have for years flooded Italian television. No politician appears to have the necessary gravitas to pull the country out of its deadlock. One of the world’s wealthiest nations depends on individuals like Matteo Salvini or Silvio Berlusconi.
In the face of all these developments, one may be justified in feeling a sense of relief about the situation here in Greece. The country went through a deep crisis that seriously undermined people’s trust in mainstream parties, institutions and its Western orientation.
We experimented, we voted SYRIZA (and their coalition partners, Independent Greeks) into power, we tried to play a game of bluff and, in the end, we decided that we had had enough. We left neofascist Golden Dawn party out of Parliament while picking an overwhelmingly pro-European majority. And we also elected a normal government, giving it a strong four-year mandate. Greece is obviously not a boring, predictable country, but it nevertheless appears to be on the right track. Did we mature faster than our Western partners? Are we perhaps more flexible and adaptable when it comes to the hard stuff?
There is no easy answer. It is however impressive that while many emblematic countries of the West appear to be locked in a state of political anomaly, Greece has returned to normal. Perhaps one day there will be a seminar about how Greece managed to survive, mature and adapt through its crisis as the Americans, the British and the Italians stood by as passive observers.