What you see is what you get.
The Ancient Greeks used to say that ALL WHAT SHINES IS NOT GOLD. To the modern Greeks all what shines IS gold. They are so easy to fool.
What the Greeks see is a pretense, a charade, a “put on”. They take it for real and of course discover, afterwards, that they had been fooled. Do they wise up? NO. They keep falling for the same “acts”. They see the shine of bronze and believe it is gold.
Do Greeks enter politics to serve Greece? Do Ministers and Prime Ministers serve the country? The very word Minister means servant and serve the country they do not. Some enter the political arena because politics is the “family business”. Others because it is “good business”. Meticulous attention to every detail of their work, so that they do not assume any responsibility for unpopular measures is the key to success, so one sure way to thrive in Greek politics is to avoid displeasing the electorate. What to them is important is opinion surveys to show them how they come across to the electorate. Of course they know they are there to serve their voters, their clientele. They do not much care for the good of the country as they do for the loyalty of their voters, which provides them the “office” that rewards them handsomely. The rewards may not be entirely materialistic. They can be psychological as well, like glory, or to do … their thing.
A typical case of a politician who entered politics because it is the family business and rose to the Premiership on the strength of his name and “clowning” (yes clowning wins kudos in Greece) is George Papandreou. His example personifies the gullibility of the Greeks. He grew up groomed for Greek politics with in- home private tuition from his father, Andreas (for whom history may not be kind). Babe George, thus, had the road paved for him and he followed it. It is only human that he succumbed to a feeling of entitlement, of ownership. PASOK, the party his father founded and Greece were his to play with. He rose to the top of the party’s leadership on the strength of his name, given- yes given- the presidency of the party by his predecessor. The party, true to its “democratic” principles, afterwards, held an election for the office with babe George being the only candidate and the babe won!
The world observed with envy the Greek political ethos!. A man, who is obviously not given to contemplation, a politician who displays no intelligence became eventually Prime Minister of (poor) Greece, but his political track record is impressive. He had spent his years in Government doing what every self respecting Greek politico does.
In the years when the party was the Opposition he opposed everything, however good it would have been for the country. Warned that the size of Greek debt was overwhelming and asked to confer with the previous Prime Minister and agree on reductions of public spending he flatly refused. He went on to win the election lying to the Greeks. When the previous Prime Minister was telling the electorate the truth, that spending had to be curtailed … to prevent (what eventually happened) babe George was assuring the Greeks that money is available and they will get a small raise in income. The Greeks did not (could not?) think that their Prime minister was not crazy to campaign on austerity, but honest. They voted for the one who was telling them what they wanted to hear and got what they got. It served them right. What they saw was not what they got.
No brains begat pains. Babe George was now in the happy position to play with what he had always felt was his. Greece.
He donated Government offices to friends. Oh yes, he also established opengov.gr to invite the country’s best to serve, strange though, almost all who were recruited through opengov.gr were of the PASOK brood.
He went around the globe to promote Socialist International (he is the chairman) and by the way Greece as well, but let the Governance of the country (it bored him) take care of itself. He perceived himself as a speaker not a doer and when he “did” well …
He established and then eliminated public entities of sorts. He broke up the Ministry of Merchant Marine, the stalwart of this ultra important sector of the Greek Economy, diffusing its departments to other Ministries (his socialist instinct to antagonize the Greek ship owners?) then changed his mind and re-founded the Ministry, then changed his mind again and broke it up again. He obviously perceived himself as a reformer, not a spoiled kid.
After agreeing with Greece’s partners on a debt bail out package and the necessary reforms to restructure the Economy to, thus, help Greece catch up with the others in the Eurozone, he would do nothing to materialize the agreement. This led to yet another and then another, agreements, each harder on the Greeks because of the need to regain the ground lost from his inability (unwillingness) to enforce the previous agreements. He brought to the Greeks more pain than would have been necessary had he only enforced the first agreement, a crying example of his irresponsible behavior. Babe George then went a step further. After agreeing with the Eurozone the last (and very advantageous to Greece) agreement he all but shattered the Global Economy by declaring, a short five days later, that he would hold a referendum, two months later, to ask the Greeks if they accept it or not. What followed is known.
Does the babe have the decency to resign the presidency of his party? No sign of this. On the contrary he goes about as if he is the undisputed leader. The coming elections may well find him still the head of the party and still a player in the Greek political game. He knows the Greeks.
He sold himself to the Greeks as a “leader” and the Greeks bought it. They are that easy to convince.
Now the Greeks are in a very good position. Not only are they being relieved of half their debt, they will pay lower interest on the rest and in addition will receive huge loans to shield them from the vagaries of the markets and help them scale down their enormous National debt. Unfortunately, they have to restructure their Economy and to upgrade their Public Sector ands this they dislike. They do not want strings attached to the help, they are happy with how things are, so say those Greeks who so think.
Fortunately, because Greek society is fragmented, there is a number of Greeks who view this as a blessing, which it is. The Troika will bring in about one hundred and fifty experts to oversee the implementation of the new program, help the Greek state apparatus function the way it should and advise and “train” it in their ways, so that it becomes a motivating, supportive mechanism to bring the Greek Economy forward and up to the level of its Eurozone friends. But the Greek mind, being what it is, begun arguing that Greece is, thus, loosing its sovereignty. Thankfully, if there was a referendum on the subject the majority would vote for the Troika to oversee the application of the agreement and help, the Greek public sector reform to a lean and mean, effective mechanism.
Really, has Greece been successful with its politicians? If the Greek politicos take charge of the agreement how will they implement it? People know how and many are glad that it is out of their hands. Can Greek politicos be trusted to curtail tax evasion? Can they reduce the public sector? Can they make it effective? Greek politicos were not even able to agree on a temporary Government, even on the backing of the one that was formed. They are the scourge of the country, but they are still there and they will be asking for the votes of the Greeks, with the same big talk and promises they always use to usurp the power to govern (for whose sake?). They know the Greeks will fall for it as they always do. Then again the shock they have suffered may have brought some change. Maybe now they will think and if they vote with their mind they will force the parties to coalesce and form a coalition government. Even so there is no guarantee a coalition will bring change, the government partners will simply divvy up the “spoils”.
The only change in Greek fortunes can come from new political formations. The Greeks are ready to welcome NEW political forces, polls consistently indicate this. Who knows. Maybe the Greeks are becoming less gullible. They want new forces in play, but who knows what these will bring. What the Greeks see is what they get. Will they distinguish bronze from gold this time, or will they fall again for the same hollow promises, the same charade? In a few months they will show to the world- dismayed by the appallingly irresponsible Greek politicians- and to each other whether they can now discern, or not. Samaras and his ND party, the likely winner of the coming elections, is some more of the same. His talk, actions, tactics, are of the traditional, old fashioned kind. Even his right hand man is, demonstrably, an idiot of a first degree. Truly, the Greeks have a very poor choice. May God be kind and help new, capable, people with integrity of intentions and ability to move and shake Greece, make up their mind and come forward. If they show up, the coming elections may be the turning point of Greek political history.