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Primitive politics

Spectators attend the parliament session in Athens on Wednesday.

By Costas Iordanidis

Wednesday’s debate on the third memorandum, hammered out between the troika and Greece’s three-party coalition government, sparked a great deal of commotion.

Some of the opposition parties went as far as to suggest that Greece should set up a special court to try the architects of the country’s fiscal reform.

The stage is ready for a fresh civil confrontation and no one can predict the consequences of this. One cannot exclude that the repercussions would not be more severe than a disorderly bankruptcy.

To be sure, there is one way that all this can be avoided. That is by keeping a promise that has already been broken three times, a promise that was rehashed by Prime Minister Antonis Samaras: that these cuts will be the last ones. To be sure, the Greek people have good reason to question his pledge. Reaching a deal with the troika of foreign lenders is a difficult task. But carrying out the deal is the exclusive responsibility of the political parties here, and above all the ruling ones.

Thirty years of political corruption and entangled interests have pushed the country to the brink of bankruptcy. It’s high time that the vociferous political leaders who are fighting to restore the country’s image abroad also restored their image among Greek citizens too.

We’ve seen several broken promises lead to false majorities. Parliament is not a stage for school plays with actors exploiting the leniency of parents and relatives who are ready to applaud a bad amateur show.

Moreover, Greece cannot be rescued in a one-off act like the passing of a bill. Rather, saving Greece is bound to be a long-term process that requires the active involvement of the people. And this can only be ensured if those in power live up to their pledge that these measures are also the last.

Greek politicians must stop counting on a change in the EU power balance. They must stop accusing the “conservative forces” of being socially insensitive. They must stop counting on a confrontation between Washington and Merkel’s Germany. If they really want to keep Greece in the eurozone, they must do more than carry out their commitments. They must also shake up the status quo they are trying to rescue.

Greece has now been a remnant of the Ottoman Empire for about a century since its collapse. Once again an effort is being made to Westernize the country. This will take more than introducing, or imposing, a new economic policy. Wednesday's parliamentary debate exposed the primitiveness of our political system and dealt a severe blow to our representative democracy.

ekathimerini.com , Wednesday November 7, 2012 (23:20)  
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