Just a few days before Greeks head out to vote in elections – which, if public opinion polls are to be believed, will put leftist SYRIZA in power – eyes in Europe and many other countries around the world are fixed on this country. This attention is not exclusive to governments, some of which have expressed their “concern” with vulgar aggressive interference, as citizens are also watching. It is likely, in fact, that foreign governments and citizens are viewing developments here in a very different light.
The interest being shown by third parties – allies, partners and uneasy bedfellows – is not just focused on economic matters. It is not just about the possibility of shock waves hitting the eurozone, a possibility that was presented as a certainty from the start of the pre-election period by homegrown and foreign scaremongers. The international community is just as interested in the political character of the Greek elections and their ideological dimension.
This interest in Greece is being expressed in myriad different ways, from direct and overt pressure, to the collection of signatures by intellectuals in Europe and the United States in defense of the most elemental thing: the people’s right to vote freely, without guardians, here, in the cradle of democracy. And all this tells us that we are at a historical moment, a turning point. The electoral result, whatever it may be, will not just affect decisions in Brussels, one way or another and up to a certain degree. It will also influence developments in the rest of Europe, particularly in the South. That is why Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy came to Greece recently to show his support for his counterpart Antonis Samaras, and why Podemos party leader Pablo Iglesias is expected in Athens to throw his weight behind SYRIZA. It also explains the official and unofficial involvement of the Italians and the Irish.
On Sunday, of course, it is us who will be voting, as Greeks and as Europeans, and not the others with their conflicting preferences.
Maybe because of Greece’s dependence on its creditors, which has admittedly resulted in a certain loss of sovereignty for the country, certain foreign “observers” were not satisfied with taking just an intellectual interest in developments and decided on statements and even action in order to sway voters.
Political leaders, Eurocrats, bankers, rating agencies, “experts” and international media take turns in the roles of sober advice-giver, babysitter and prophets of doom. Had they thought of things more cool-mindedly, perhaps they would have realized that no citizen of any country takes kindly to or considers natural any pressure from outside. It looks like the message from 2012 was not received. Or maybe the Europeans got it but responded (either out of indifference or arrogance), “It’s all Greek to me.”