Filling the void

In the world of politics, what is said is often less important than who says it. This explains some of the reactions caused by the comments made earlier this week by Dimitris Daskalopoulos, head of the Hellenic Federation of Enterprises (SEV). Finger wagging is unacceptable when it comes from those who are, at least in part, responsible for the current crisis. Daskalopoulos’s remarks would have been more welcome had they come with a modicum of self-criticism. It’s easy to kick someone when they’re already down. An opportunistic Daskalopoulos did exactly that. He fired at the wounded political system and then made a vague reference to state-dependent businesspeople. Entrepreneurs of small and medium-sized businesses reacted vehemently because they saw their most basic principles come under attack. The industrialists, on the other hand, have managed to hold onto their privileges, despite the downturn. In fact, many of them have profited from the model that brought Greece to the brink of disaster. Moreover, they rushed to move money to foreign accounts which further added to the strain on the Greek economy. Finally, it’s hard to bypass the fact that SEV is led by an industrialist-turned-man of independant means. Daskalopoulos’s comments caused a storm not because of the criticism but due to the widespread impression that some in business circles are uttering political language because they are flirting with the idea of filling the political void. Silvio Berlusconi has already underlined the message: Better to be in the hands of a successful businessman than an incompetent and corrupt politician. However, for the recipe to work it’s not enough to feed into the old petit-bourgeois fantasies. Berlusconi was successful under different circumstances because his right-wing populism is attractive to like-minded connivers. Nothing can be excluded in crisis-hit Greece, but the core of entrepreneurs have an additional reason to take the beaten track and exercise policy from the safety of their behind-the-scene seats.

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