The Politics of Greece’s Crisis
The Politics of Greece’s Crisis
The crisis in Greece is a purely political one. An extract from the author's address to the National Hellenic Student Association in Boston University.
Everything has to do with politics. Every country is governed by politicians, and every economy is based on political decisions. In short, our own future is defined by the choices of those leaders we have elected. The crisis that Greece is experiencing today is ultimately a political one rather than a purely financial one. It's a crisis of political credibility, a crisis of political effectiveness, a crisis of breached confidence between people and politicians. Basically, it's a crisis endangering the stability of Greece’s democracy.
But let's be honest; there are no easy solutions. However, there are solutions driven by common logic -- solutions that will never emerge unless we are adamant in pushing them forward. In Greece at this moment, the people have forced the political system to accept such a solution. It's the solution of political collaboration, cooperation, and consensus among the political parties within the country, one in which there is an unprecedented coalition government in Greece, comprised of the two major parties of the country. This historical political achievement not only signifies a new era in Greek politics, but also, creates high expectations for all of us. Expectations that come from abroad, including those from European partners, international media, and financial markets, all of which believe that it's time for Greece to demonstrate political solidarity.
Most importantly, it creates even higher expectations for the majority of Greek people who are looking forward to a new era within which the sterile political clashes, the ideological prejudice, and the partisan tactics no longer have a role. This development is actually a positive step forward. Nevertheless, it's not enough. There is much more to be accomplished. Although a new chapter in the recent political history of Greece is now open, it's just the beginning. There are many more steps to be taken, and action must be quick and immediate. The reason is obvious: the country is currently under a real threat, facing the danger of a new national catastrophe as a result of its potential uncontrolled default, departure from the euro zone, and isolation in the European and international stage for many decades ahead.
When trying to figure out the political problem in Greece, I would not refer simply to those unpunished politicians who stole or mismanaged public assets. In my opinion, the political problem in Greece is deeper and even more complicated. One issue is the lack of political collaboration and consensus on the major problems. What the political parties and politicians in Greece did not realize on time is that "the future will not be the same, as they had predicted". We live in an era of change where political parties alone are not as effective at fulfilling the needs of the society as they once were. In such an era of rapid economic, political and social evolution, the new challenges differ from those faced in the past. If in the past the ways to resolve problems were prompted by right or left ideologies, by the ideologies of socialism or neoliberalism, nowadays resolving complicated challenges requires complicated solutions. It is essential that we have politicians with open minds instead of dogmatic views -- politicians determined to sacrifice their own personal or partisan interest in favor of national interest. This is a transition that unfortunately has not happened in Greece over the last couple of decades.
A second fundamental issue associated with the political crisis in Greece is the nepotism in which Greek political life is trapped. As a result, many young and capable individuals are discouraged from getting involved in politics. They realize that the Greek political system is like a private club, accessible only to those who come from families with prior political involvement. It is not a coincidence that for the last three decades, Greece has been governed by leaders who come from two or three political families. Some others believe that becoming involving in politics is a vehicle to gaining wealth. If the political parties in Greece are not ready or willing to modernize and open their doors to socially competent individuals rather than partisan elites, the political system in the country will plummet.
Let’s take a look at the broader picture. This crisis is occurring not only on a national level in Greece, but also on a European and international level. The current financial turmoil sparks even larger social reactions with unpredictable outcomes. Examples of these social reactions have already developed not only in Greece, but also in many other European countries and even in the United States with the "Occupy Wall Street" movement. Even though their demands are disparate, one thing is certain: the citizens, from one side of the Atlantic to the other, feel that they are underrepresented and that political leaders of modern Democracies around the world are not accountable to the people but, rather, to those who have the economic power in their hands. What we must do is redefine the functions of our modern democracy and fix the problems created by the lack of transparency and the divide between those who make decisions and those who are affected by them.
In one his speeches, American President John F. Kennedy stated, "the future is not a gift, but, rather, an achievement." I would say that achieving an ideal future is not possible simply by waiting or hoping for it: it is necessary to do something more. For Greece, this “something more” cannot be achieved by those who contemplate the past. We should understand that becoming the agents for change in our country is not just an obligation but also a responsibility that we must endure.
It is necessary for the youth of Greece, both within the country and abroad, to take action as a unified group with new ideas and beliefs in order to give Greece the know-how and prospects to create a new beginning.
We are capable of broadcasting the message that although Greece has financially defaulted, it is a not politically deteriorated country. It is our duty to help Greece turn the page in its history. We can make it. Greece can make it. And as the poet Odyssea Elitis wrote in one of his poems: if you break Greece apart into small pieces you will see that what is left is one olive tree, a vineyard, and a fishing boat, which means that with these three items Greece can be rebuilt.
The views expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect Fair Observer’s editorial policy.