Prime Minister Antonis Samaras has left for Beijing, where he hopes to attract investment. He is accompanied by the hopes of the Greek people that he will be successful; even during worse times than the present it has been proven that hope does not die. Meanwhile, every opposition party in Greece disagrees with the policies being pursued and a large section of society is feeling pessimistic about the country’s prospects.
The government’s regular injections of optimism, upbeat assessments and the behavior of the markets, coupled with the huge gains on the Athens bourse, are unfortunately not in tune with the real economy. And if society has not reached its breaking point, this is due to the fact the family unit, which has lost its potency in the countries of Northern Europe, continues to function.
The problem in Greece, however, is bigger, because the collapse of the economic system has gone hand-in-hand with the end of the political contract that had prevailed for the past few decades. After the junta, the Greek structure was built on two pillars: forming sturdy democratic institutions and joining the union of European countries.
The mob mentality, libertine practices, organized chaos and anarchy colluded to undermine the democratic system and made insolence the norm. At the same time, under pressure from the consequences of the decades-long mismanagement of the economy, Parliament has become a body that votes through extremely complex laws in a hasty manner, often without a shred of deliberation. Fear of snap elections and of not being elected again simply ensure that the majority of deputies stay in line.
Meanwhile, Greece’s entry into the European Union highlighted just how underdeveloped the country really was. The business community that emerged in the mid-1970s proved to be inferior to what the circumstances demanded and the result has been the almost complete deindustrialization of Greece. The 1980s, during the reign of PASOK and Andreas Papandreou, led to the monstrosity that is the Greek state today, to out-of-control unionism and to the squandering of EU funding. Finally, entry into the eurozone simply facilitated unfettered and ultimately criminal public and private borrowing. It is no surprise that euroskepticism is growing dangerously strong.
With the two pillars of the modern Greek state shaken – perhaps irreparably – the political contract is up in the air, leading to the fragmentation of the mainstream parties and the emergence of such unconventional formations as Golden Dawn.
There is much discussion about whether the rescue plan for Greece will work, but the survival of a country depends on the existence of a political system whose legitimacy is beyond question for the overwhelming majority of society.