Roughly a month ago, just after a bunch of self-styled anarchists ran amok on Voukourestiou Street in downtown Athens, a “leading” yet nameless member of the anti-establishment Rouvikonas (Greek for Rubicon) group heralded the siege of downtown Athens by supporters of November 17 hitman Dimitris Koufodinas. The convicted terrorist’s pets were mad because some judges had prevented their master from walking around the streets where he murdered some of his victims.
Smashing windows and grunting, they brandished the lifer’s effigy, screaming that he has ownership over the city, like he did over the lives of his victims.
One month later, the overwhelming majority of Athenians responded by electing Kostas Bakoyannis as the city’s mayor.
The candidate may have run against a nebulous rival carrying all the baggage dumped on him by SYRIZA, the party that supported him, but he also stood up against Koufodinas, against the toxic attraction he continues to exercise over a tiny part of the population that generates a lot more noise than its actual importance merits.
Apart from anything else, Bakoyannis’ election is a statement that “these streets were not made for Koufodinas’ minions,” a response to a claim by a Rouvikonas leader earlier this year that the “streets of Athens are made for us.”
In the runup to the European Parliament and local polls, a group of those minions vandalized Bakoyannis’ campaign kiosks in downtown Athens, shouting insults about his dead father, who was murdered by November 17. It is simplistic to believe that their confidence is based merely on the certainty that their acts will go unpunished. It is also based on the impression that a large part of society agrees with or tolerates their actions.
This same impression is behind their informal alliance with the authorities, the paralysis of the police and the duplicity of the political leadership. However many these “supporters” may be, though, the “others” are much, much more numerous. These “others” are people who are no longer satisfied with hypocritical condemnations of the violence and are sick of feeling blackmailed and bullied.
The outcome of the local elections, coupled with that of the European polls, pointing to a radical shift in the political landscape, also reflects, among others, the disgust felt by a critical mass of the population toward pointless violence. We have been experiencing it for too long and are sick and tired of it; it’s time to move on. This need to move on is perhaps the most positive message that came out of the recent ballots, even if they were not a national election.
SYRIZA survived as it did by consuming every single stereotype that had paralyzed Greece’s phobic society – even the relic of Koufodinas. As a result of its political incompetence or simple stupidity, it failed to see that by consuming these stereotypes it was wearing them out. A few days before the recent elections, it paved the way for the assassin to be granted a fresh furlough from prison, only to realize a few days later that the Athenians voted the son of one of his victims for mayor.