I am under the impression that sometimes Greeks are terrified at the thought of Greece becoming a boring country. We have this irresistible urge for quarrels and divisions, and embarking on adventures that are reminiscent of the past. Alas, in the past 49 years, Greece has become an almost boring European country. Sure, we have been through a lot: the unchecked populism of the 1980s, which is responsible for many present-day failings; several Greek-Turkish crises; periods of political turbulence and intense polarization; a bankruptcy that brought the country to the brink of a euro exit.
And that’s not all. All that Greece went through since 1974 seems like a very innocent and refined version of what this country went through for the first three quarters of the 20th century. For almost 50 years, democracy has been firmly established in the country, the political system is unquestioned, the idea of a military coup is unthinkable, the pro-European orientation is non-negotiable. The country flirted with disaster, but avoided it. We have come an incredibly long way.
Consider that in the 50 years that preceded the 1974 plebiscite that abolished Greece’s monarchy, the country held four more referendums that eliminated and subsequently restored the institution. Similarly, it saw an endless number of military coups.
And yet, we sometimes fail to understand. Sometimes we get unjustifiably insecure and other times we obsess, leading matters to extremes to see if we can handle it. Nevertheless, this country has sorted out the fundamentals. We know what our political system is, we know where we belong. There will always be disagreements between our political leaders; and there need to be. Our institutions are occasionally shallow or weak, and they constantly need to be supported and looked after by people who are up to the task. However, even these institutions have proved themselves against great challenges.
It’s worth making a more cool-headed assessment of where we stand. Greece’s last king was laid to rest, was discussed, was applauded, awakened some passions and angered some people. But nothing changed, really. The country, despite our grievances, is on the right track; which is that of a normal, European, boring democracy. The last 50 years will not turn out to be some paradoxical parenthesis in our history.