OPINION

Acting cute, as the boat goes down

The Greek public – more accurately just a handful of people who had little else to do – were on Wednesday subjected to yet another preposterous parliamentary debate about the so-called submarine scandal. SYRIZA had demanded the setting up of an investigative committee to scrutinize a deal signed by current PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos in 2010, when he was still defense minister. The New Democracy-PASOK coalition rejected the opposition’s proposal.

The voluminous Venizelos attacked opposition leader Alexis Tsipras, but he did not stop there. He went as far as to portray himself as the politician who was able to correct the huge mistakes made by the administration of pro-reform Socialist Costas Simitis and the New Democracy government that followed. When PASOK came to power in October 2009, Venizelos claimed, he was faced with a “nuclear accident.” The PASOK chief said he would either have to put on his protective gear or leave the dangerous area, he said. Nevertheless, he was provided with the necessary political cover.

To be sure, Tsipras was not that interested in shedding light on the case – not at the moment at least. Rather, his aim was to give New Democracy deputies a good hazing ahead of the holiday break (particularly those of them who will be traveling back to their hometowns and meeting up with their voters).

Also yesterday, Parliament voted to suspend state funding to Golden Dawn. The decision was made even though the trial of its leader and MPs accused of being members of a criminal organization has not yet started. Surprisingly, Manolis Glezos, a SYRIZA MP and a man with an undisputed anti-fascist record, voted against the motion on the (legitimate) grounds that Golden Dawn “must not be battled with decisions, but politically.”

A few hours before the vote, a group of desperate Greeks lined up to receive food handed out by Golden Dawn in a major PR stunt that, being limited to Greek citizens, once again prompted charges of discrimination.

The question is whether Parliament and the domestic political system have an instinct for self-preservation. Politically speaking, PASOK is next to nothing. The conservative party is seriously damaged. SYRIZA is faced with the risk of winning the next election simply because the absence of disaffected voters – moderate right and recycled socialists – could win it an absolute majority. The system is breaking down and its key players are acting cute.