Citizens – the majority of whom are addicted to partisan absolutism and accusations against rivals for the destruction that they (alone) have wreaked on the country – might feel perplexed by an assessment of modern Greek history that acknowledges the contribution of all sides to the country’s political, economic and social progress.
Objectivity tends to be irksome to one side on some occasions, to the other side on others. A levelheaded, nonpartisan approach to things does not excite the crowds or rally the troops. It’s hard to swallow because it also entails giving credit where credit’s due, even if this is to the opposite camp.
Greece has many well-known shortcomings: very little consensus, widespread cronyism, embezzlement and waste of public funds, tax evasion and sundry more examples of immoral behavior. It’s always someone else who is responsible for the country’s fiscal derailment, from Andreas Papandreou, to Costas Simitis or Costas Karamanlis. More recently, the populism of George Papandreou when he was in opposition, as well as that of Antonis Samaras and Alexis Tsipras, who preached anti-memorandum rhetoric before accepting and implementing the terms of the bailouts once in power – what binds these men is the absence of self-criticism and a tendency to blame others for a situation they had a part in creating.
There have been many mistakes, on every side, not just by those in power, but also by opposition parties that caused harm with the stance they maintained, the consensus they failed to offer and the obstacles they put up.
Still, a lot was done right too. The painful dictatorship of 1967-74 was followed by a long period of growth and prosperity. The Metapolitefsi, as the period of democratic restoration is known, has left us with a lot of positives: the legitimization of political parties that were banned in the past, national reconciliation, economic growth and Greece’s membership of the European Union and the eurozone are among them. Even SYRIZA’s political awakening, which ripped off the rose-colored glasses worn by so many, is part of the Greek political system’s maturing process, despite the cost.
Now, on the anniversary of the restoration of democracy, let’s all set blanket animosity aside for a moment and acknowledge the contribution of each other’s rivals. The resilience of Greek democracy, which emerges unscathed from the deep crisis of the last eight years, is an achievement that belongs to the majority of the political system – albeit not to the same degree for all – regardless of ideology.