The hate speech that leftist SYRIZA and Alexis Tsipras employed before coming to power, deploring their political rivals as yes-men and traitors while spawning division with a highly polarizing us-or-them type of rhetoric, forged a political climate of intolerance and violence. The subsequent SYRIZA-Independent Greeks (ANEL) coalition relied on this toxic climate of fanaticism and polarization to promote its political agenda, often resorting to less-than-legitimate means.
The government sought to manipulate the judicial system and to launch a campaign of witch-hunting and scandal-mongering against former ministers and prime ministers, while systematically targeting any media that tried to expose and criticize the mistakes made by the Tsipras administration.
The bomb attack against the headquarters of Skai TV and Kathimerini newspaper in southern Athens early on Monday morning was the product of this poisoned climate, which serves as a hotbed for the brainless and the enemies of democracy. The attack demonstrates that encouraging acts of violence and preaching division can very easily backfire.
Greece now stands at a crucial crossroads. The country will either make a decisive step forward or once again be caught up in deadlock. After 10 years of severe economic sacrifices, the country has exited the bailout programs, albeit only in theory. Because in real life Greece has committed itself to a strict tax policy to secure the high primary budget surpluses demanded by its European lenders until 2022 while being unable to access international debt markets. Meanwhile, growth is anemic and much-anticipated foreign investments remain elusive due to lack of trust.
Greek parties must finally soften their political rhetoric and forge some minimum degree of understanding in order to ensure a return to normality. The toxic climate must ease. All sides must bring an end to their divisive rhetoric and cease their accusations of treachery. Even a New Democracy government will need political support from other parties and a climate of consensus for the country to survive the huge economic challenge that lies ahead.
Let’s hope that the recent bomb attack on democracy and pluralism will be an opportunity to turn the page.