Safeguarding democracy

Greece is set for a big battle that will decide its future in the years to come. Strong and, sometimes, contradictory forces may pull the country toward bankruptcy, perhaps even a civil conflict. But one thing is starting to become clear: Notwithstanding the mistakes and the excess use of force employed by the police during Wednesday?s demonstration, it became evident that extremists on the left and the right of the political spectrum, together with a large bloc of unionists, academics and journalists, were doing everything they could to bring the nation closer to the abyss. Conducting investigative journalism is one thing. Instigating violence is quite another. Too bad we saw a repetition of the December 2008 events, when a teenager?s death was used as a lever in an attempt to break the state and the law.

Mainstream parties must make clear where they stand. PASOK made a huge mistake to oppose New Democracy?s legislation on hoodies and surveillance cameras. Some inside the conservative opposition seem to be banking on chaos and disaster, hoping that this will bring them closer to government. But there are no winners in this. Political change must come through democratic procedures — not chaos.

Should New Democracy come to power, it will have to face the same extremists, the same police, the same problems. Greece?s political leaders must sit down and solve this costly problem. For their part, journalists must put ratings on the side and ponder the ramifications of pouring oil on the flames. We should all take a moment to think who has an interest in seeing the country degenerate in an orgy of violence. There?s already enough money out there that has been invested in credit default swaps (in other words, our national catastrophe), bankrupt entrepreneurs who think they can disguise their failures behind the overall chaos and, of course, powerful interests that do not want to stop milking the public utility cows.

George Papandreou, Antonis Samaras, Giorgos Karatzaferis, Fotis Kouvelis, Dora Bakoyannis — they all believe in democracy and none wants to see a default or a return to the drachma. Responsibility about the future of this nation falls on their shoulders. Parties have to put their differences aside and find common ground so as to protect democracy, law and order. Some forces are pushing society toward the abyss. People resist despite their rightful indignation at the failures of the political establishment.