The end of a political tradition?

And so yet another anniversary of the 1973 student uprising at the Athens Polytechnic has passed. The events of 1973 are regarded – rightly or wrongly – as the beginning of the end of the military dictatorship in Greece, the catalyst of a new political order and an ideological point of reference for the post-1974 political landscape. All political parties rightly condemn the dictatorship of the colonels, and not only because of the events of November 17, 1973, when a student rebellion was brutally crushed by the military. Most middle-aged citizens have memories of violence, arbitrariness and political crimes, culminating in a thoughtless coup against Cyprus; but if they are honest, they will also admit that the dictatorship served to purge the political system, irrespective of its leaders’ intentions. The citizens’ aversion to the colonels and their associates was so deep so as to erase from their memories the wretched image of pre-1967 politics in Greece, when senile obstinacy and administrative incompetence prevailed. All these uncomfortable memories were repressed during the dictatorship and political leaders expiated. No one sought explanations for their deplorable behavior in the past and everyone seemed to forget their pitiful inability to manage a domestic crisis far smaller than the great political divide of World War I. It was on the basis of this bitterness that the post-1974 system was built. Although this system has achieved a lot over the past 33 years, it is showing signs of fatigue. It has become purely administrative and lacks a vital driving force. And this shortfall cannot be blamed on our leaders but on a general political decline. An entire political tradition is coming full circle without anything new emerging to replace it.

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