A folly-royal

The anti-royal campaign that PASOK has waged ever since it regained power in 1993 is coming to an end, as the European Court of Human Rights is expected to rule in favor of rich compensation for Greece’s former monarch, ignoring the cries from the government’s spin doctors who claim that the real debtor is not the Greek state but the former royal family. In this light, one can understand the fuss over the handling of the royal property issue and the sudden row that has broken out between Prime Minister Costas Simitis and Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos, the chief architect of the new anti-royal campaign. The more substantial problem, however, does not lie with how certain aspects of the issue are being handled, but rather with the widely held political view according to which the majority has the moral and political right to behave in a cruel fashion, confiscating the property of unwanted persons and stripping them of their Greek identity. If the political system is as stable as all political parties claim it to be, then it cannot be threatened by a former king or indeed by anyone acting within legal contours. If, on the contrary, the system is vulnerable, then the blame should be laid instead on those who have administered the country’s public affairs over the previous decades. However, there is no longer any substantial threat to the system stemming from the case of the former king. What is being demonstrated, on the other hand, is a sad case of amateurism on behalf of the ruling elite. This elite, aware of its poor record of administration, its omissions and errors in all aspects of government policy, has portrayed Constantine as an enemy who is seeking to undermine the democratic system. PASOK’s great, and in a way unique, ruse is that it has ruled the country for almost two decades as if it were an opposition party, and has targeted the former monarchy as one of its political targets that needs to be eliminated. But this policy has been exhausted; and this also refers to the issue of the royal property. Hence, the Greek state will have no choice but to pay the ex-monarch the compensation stipulated by the European Court of Human Rights. Because, among other things, Greece has to act in a law-abiding fashion before the same tribunal that Cypriot citizens have referred to in their actions against the Turkish occupation and the confiscation of their properties. And this will be the material price of a political folly.

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