Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Football vs Politics

It’s been a very interesting weekend for Greece. On Saturday, Greeks managed to beat Russia in the first round of the European Football tournament, Euro 2012. That’s probably soccer for some of you. From our Group, only we and the Czechs managed to pass, leaving behind Poland and the Russians! That means that we have one of the 8 best football teams in Europe! Well, being a bit lucky we had won the championship back in 2004. Football sometimes is something we do right…

Salpigidis, our number 1 scorer

While I never watch national tournaments neither here nor in Greece, international or global tournaments I find very interesting. I also love the general friendly banter between me and my fellow foreign colleagues. Since I am the only Greek in my team, I’m put in the position as the country’s representative anyway. I have to keep track of the changes and news.

On a very different note, with most Greeks really happy about the previous day’s match result, the national elections took place on Sunday! The major candidates were two: New Democracy (aka ND, the conservatives) and Syriza (left wing party).

Syriza is a relatively new player. They present themselves to be against the bailout, they want to renegotiate its terms and see if Greece still needs to be in the common currency. What they were saying appealed to the public and their popularity increased. However, the other side of the coin is that many believed that they were behind lots of protests and maybe riots that happened in Athens the last months. And don’t forget the poor people that got burnt inside a bank some months ago during one of these riots.

ND is an older party that was in power for many years. When they weren’t the government, they were the major opposition for PASOK (the socialists). Changing governments between ND and PASOK has been taking place ever since the mid 70’s. PASOK completely messed up the last couple of years, so ND only remained as a major player. They represent the need for Greece to remain in the Euro zone and they’ve agreed to the austerity measures. They are mostly liked in Europe and even Financial Times suggested in a controversial article for people to vote for them!

Our new Prime Minister

During the last national elections, ND won. They don’t have the absolute majority however and they will form a coalition with PASOK (their old enemy) and another pro-bailout smaller party. My mother’s been very happy with the result and I believe that Europe breathed a sigh of relief. Syriza declined their offer for a coalition since they want to be the opposition. And I don’t blame them. It’s much easier to put yourself out of trouble’s way and only point fingers instead of providing solutions. And I’m not in the new coalition’s side either. They are the ones that brought the whole crisis on the people’s head in the first place. I was reading again about the record unemployment rates and the fact that all civil servants’ salaries were cut by 40% since 2010. One in 5 companies has closed the last 2 years. However, I do agree with my mother that between the two, I prefer the coalition of ND and PASOK than the risk taker Alexis Tsipras who is the leader of Syriza.

The new coalition’s work is very tough though and the coming months challenging. The new government will try to renegotiate some terms of the bailout and cut back in the austerity measures. There will be trouble though. I fear that after summer, there will be a new wave of strikes, marches and even riots. Don’t forget that now the far right wing party of golden dawn (the neo-Nazis) are also in the Parliament. I’m not optimistic any more. The country’s economy is on decline the last 5 years and there is still no light at the end of the tunnel.    


  1. It's certainly a complex state of affairs.

    There seem to be losers, whatever happens.

    1. Unfortunately, that usually happens...

  2. Greece and much of Europe has a tough road ahead of them and I don't envy the plight of your home. That is a very interesting chart breaking down the different results from May and June. It looks like the polarization simply consolidated with most of the New Democracy gains coming at the expense of some of the smaller parties on the right and the same for Syriza.

    Stay positive... perhaps that's a typical American approach. We can be delusional at times.

    1. I don't know about being delusional, but staying optimistic is never a bad approach.
      The political situation changed a lot in a month. Unfortunately, that didn't stop the far right party of getting into the government...

  3. A sad tale. Well I know enough Greek History to know Greece bounces back in time. Or so I hope.