Ideally, the forthcoming general elections of the 17th June 2012 should be decided on the basis of what type of State we want to have in Greece.
The Greek State has been nurtured and used as a primary instrument for political domination by the two parties that dominated Greek politics since 1974, New Democracy and PASOK.
It seems that if the left wins the forthcoming elections Greece will have an even bigger State.
This story goes back all the way to the establishment of the Greek State after the war of independence against the Ottoman Empire.
I remind the reader that the first Governor of Greece, Ioannis Kapodistrias, was murdered in 1831 because his attempts to build a “modern” state were perceived as a major threat to the interests of powerful local groups.
Kapodistrias paid for this with his life.
Since 1831 the Greek State has increased, has become very complex, inefficient, and a nest of corruption.
The Greek State has also become the key customer of the private sector.
To the extent that the private sector in Greece depends on the Greek State.
The Greek economy as a result of this perverse development of the State has been distorted.
In Greece we have never had “capitalism”.
What we have had was “state-capitalism”.
Ironically, the “state-capitalism” that is the creation of the center-right and center-left governments in Greece, is now to be replaced by the “state-socialism” that is preached by the emerging power of Greek Politics, the SYRIZA party. One way or another, it seems, there is no escape from the state.
This is bad news, because this State is going and has been going for centuries now in the wrong direction.
Primarily, it is a mechanism that preserves and promotes the interests of special interest groups in the society. It is deeply divisive as it turns one part of society against another. At the same time, it goes against the basics of a capitalist economy, as it actually discourages and hinders private investment, any type of healthy entrepreneurial activity and business.
The major failure of the Greek Government in the last two and a half years has been the fact they have left the State intact.
Even the cirisis that has been destroying the country has not been a good enough motive for the politicians to start addressing the key cause of Greece’s demise.
PASOK, the socialist party, has the primary responsibility for this; but New Democracy, the conservative party, also has huge responsibility.
PASOK and New Democracy have been “punished” by the voters in the elections of the 6th May 2012, but it appears for the wrong reason. The voters want to return to the Greek Valhalla, the huge Greek State which gives jobs to all the faithful to the leading parties, strengthens the unions to a ridiculous extent, and enables some smart guys to make an extra buck.
Today both PASOK and New Democracy appear voiceless when it comes to this issue: what are we going to do with the Greek State?
There is no comprehensive plan to rebuild the state so that it helps the recovery of the country and the economy.
The left party of SYRIZA that emerged second from the elections of the 6th May 2012 and is now a contender for winning the next election, is saying that in Greece we do not have the State we need, and we therefore have to restructure it. Without putting forward a plan for the restructuring of the State, they say things that appeal to the man on the street, like hiring enough nurses for the hospitals, but they do not say where they will find the money.
They also say a lot about public control of the Banks, new taxes for the rich, and measures that have been floating about in every left leaning political agenda, but remain abstract, without any financial documentation and a specific timeframe for implementation.
The lack of specifics from SYRIZA’s alleged “political program” prevents any specific critique of it.
I can only say that overall they are going in the wrong way, by creating yet again a huge inefficient State that will have a “progressive” touch to it.
SYRIZA’ s political fortunes have been built by the support of the disenchanted public servants and all the voters who perceive themselves threatened by the “memorandum”, i.e. by the creditors attempts to rebuild the Greek State.
Unfortunately most of these voters wish to return to the good old days when the loans were flowing and – more or less – squandered by the party boys and girls, acting as guardians of the State, when all they were doing was to dig the country’s grave.
In addition, a significant percentage of PASOK party and labour union apparatchiks have emmigrated to SYRIZA, where they are building their new nest based on their dreams of re-building the State and maintaining their status and privileges forever.
In this light, SYRIZA does not appear to be a (so called) “progressive” party. On the contrary, it comes out as a highly reactionary one, trying to restore the old order of the monstrous State that has huge operating costs and delivers minimal value to the citizens.
For the record, I add some comments about the other parties that got more than 3% in the 6th May election.
The New Democracy spin-off “Independent Greeks” is collecting anti-memorandum votes. It has taken a populist stance, emphasizing national pride and “independence”, and accusing New Democracy and PASOK as traitors.
There is only a short step to walk, and hang the traitors in Constitution Square. In a country that has gone through the Minor Asia disaster of 1922 and the Civil War of 1946-1949, with devastating results, to use rhetoric like this is verging either on insanity or complete lack of political morals. Maybe both.
Finally, the “Democratic Left” is a moderate SYRIZA spin-off that lacks punch and purpose. It seems to be lost between the aggresive populist SYRIZA and the conservative center-left PASOK, but has managed to attract a lot of disenchanted politicians and voters away from PASOK.
The conclusion? I have the feeling that the most important elections in Greece since 1974 will take place without the parties addressing the most important and decisive issue facing the Greek society and economy. Even worse, we are attacking the windmills of the “memorandum” and the “evil” creditors, when the real problem is the making of the parties on the left and center and right, and is the Greek State.
God help us. But I don’t think he will. Not this time.