Syriza: Merrymaking While in Opposition Follymaking While in Government

America celebrates The Fourth of July as the day of independence of a great nation; Greece remembers The Fifth of July as the day of ignominy and gross stupidity of an abject nation, fallen from its former illustrious and glorious history, that voted “No” in the referendum and thus opened the door to the exit of Greece from the European Union and its entrance to the drachma.

By Con George-Kotzabasis—July 07, 2015

On last Sunday’s Referendum on The Fifth of July, sixty-one percent of politically and economically illiterate, not to say ignorant, Greeks, voted a “proud” and “dignified” “No” to the EuroGroup’s proposals, thus putting a noose around the neck of the nation, and celebrated this victory by dancing frenetically and entranced in Syntagma Square Zorba dances as if by putting a noose around someone’s neck was a festive occasion. And they did this in the background of closed banks, pensioners mass queuing to get a small part of their pensions, depositors unable to get a preferential amount of cash from their accounts, businesses unable to make transit payments on the exchange of goods and services, tourism, the major export of Greece, decimated by tourist cancellations. All this therefore leading to a free fall of the economy with the prospect of leading the latter to a catastrophic end with innumerable business enterprises closing, the present level of unemployment rising from 1.5 million to three-to-four million, engendering shortages of food and medicines, and with the ghost of the returning drachma–and thus absolute poverty of the country–looming over the head of Greece. Not since the launching of the Sicilian Expedition in 415 B.C. by the fatal decision of the Athenian General Assembly, that according to the great historian Thucydides was the stupidest decision ever taken and which was the cause of the ignominious and irretrievably annihilating defeat of Athens in the Peloponnesian War, has a democracy, as has been shown in last Sunday’s referendum, taken such a ludicrously irrational and fatuous decision on such a crucial question as whether the country should stay within the European Union or not.

Syriza while in Opposition in a crescendo of populism, ‘caressing’ promises, and purported macho stand against the Troika whose Memorandum of austerity, which according to the emotional fulminations of Syriza was humiliating and offending the pride and dignity of Greeks and leading to no end to the economic crisis, promised to the Greek people that by negotiating implacably and strongly with its European partners it would extract an economically better and dignified deal from the latter that would lead the country out of the crisis.

Of course all this merrymaking of Syriza was vacuous and wishful thinking, topped by a mountain of shameful lies, and never had a chance of being realized; it was never grounded on pragmatism and was bound to crash, like a house of cards, at the first touch with reality. The Greek people, however, irate and disgusted with the austerity measures of the Samaras government, but oblivious of the fact that these necessary measures were pulling the country out of the crisis, as stated by serious economic analysts world-wide, ratings institutions such as Standard & Poor’s, and Moody’s, as well as top-of-the-branch European politicians, were enraptured with the demagogy of Alexis Tsipras and became prone and willing to take a ride on the carousel of merrymaking provided by Syriza, that made by a magic wand hard things easy. Hence, on the 25th of January they elected the hardline left of Syriza in government.

Once in power Syriza revealed the inner lineaments of its nature and politics. It was a mixture of political immaturity, administrative incompetence, and hardline leftist ideology. A dangerous cocktail for anyone to hold in one’s hand at any time, especially when one steers among rocks the ship of state. This was illustrated by its two major players, Alexis Tsipras, and Yanis Varoufakis, respectively as prime and finance minister, who both of them, unlike God Who dares not to play dice, to paraphrase Einstein, gambled the fortune of the country in one throw of the dice and lost, as events showed down the track. But the hoodwinked politically innocent people along with the nipple-fed intellectuals aka “useful idiots,” to quote Lenin, still continued to throng as guests the merry party of Syriza in government and still believed the fairy tales of these two political spivs, Tsipras and Varoufakis, that by the strong stand of the Greek negotiators they would force their European counterparts to give in and provide Greece the tailor made program that was sewed up by these two spivs. The Europeans, of course, in their professionalism, would never accept the economically irrational and hare-brained demands of the Greek finance minister Varoufakis. Instead, they compelled the government, on the 20th of February, to sign and pledge itself to the implementation of the second Memorandum extant but which the government shilly shallied and refused to implement thus losing all trust and credibility in the eyes of the Europeans.

This is why the result of the Referendum has no impact in the thinking of the leaders of the European Union as they have lost all trust and have no confidence in the Tsipras government. On the contrary, as already seems likely, they will impose the most severe measures in the third coming Memorandum as an ironclad condition of Greece remaining in the Eurozone. Thus the trumpeted argument of the Tsipras government and its ministers that a “No” vote in the referendum would be a strong negotiating weapon, proved to be a paper sword in the hands of Tsipras, as is currently shown in his negotiations with his counterparts in the European Union.

The comedy of the rise of Syriza by the Aristophanean basket into the clouds of an ideal government is rapidly turning into an Aeschylean tragedy. The same audience that will joyfully be clapping the Aristophanean comedy will sorrowfully wailing and crying when it will be staged as an Aeschylean tragedy. Pride riding high always precedes the inevitable falling.

I rest on my oars: your turn now

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Functional Government a Prerequisite for Handling Crisis in Greece

I’m republishing the following short piece that was written on June 20, 2012. As events have shown since then  it was the unity of the tripartite government of New Democracy, Pasok, and the Democratic Left, that was set-up post-election, in regard to the policies to be followed with its negotiations with the European Union that has kept Greece within the union and has given the country a new opportunity to overcome the crisis. There are favorable signs that Greece under the strong and resilient leadership of Antonis Samaras the miracle of an economically resurgent Greece is about to unfold. 

By Con George-Kotzabasis

The present position of Evangelos Venizelos the leader of Pasok that the government to be formed on June 18 must include Syriza in a coalition of other parties so that it can presumably deal more effectively with European leaders in regard to the necessary modifications of the Second Memorandum, is to repeat the stupendous error of the Democratic Left, under the pusillanimous leadership of Fotis Kouvelis, when it too had placed the same pre-condition after the May 6 election. The present profound crisis of Greece needs a functional government with united policies and realistic and decisive leadership that can pull the country out of the crisis and not a government of factions whose deep differences of how to handle the negotiations with the European Union would inevitably lead to intestine fights and to the collapse of such government that would seriously exacerbate the crisis. Thus the pleading for a wider coalition as Venizelos proposes will result with mathematical precision to a dysfunctional government irretrievably incapable of handling the crisis.

In Greece Political Midgets on High Wire Act

By Con George-Kotzabasis—November 02, 2011-11-02

Political midgets, a la Papandreou, have chosen to take the risk of the high wire act by this proposal of the referendum. Hoping that the people will vote for the lesser of two evils, i.e., accepting the debt deal as formulated in Brussels last week and rejecting default and departure from the euro zone. At a time when strong leadership is a prerequisite for diminishing the crisis that Greece is facing, Papandreou abdicates his own and passes it to the people through this future referendum. It’s as if the polloi had somehow a better knowledge and understanding of the critical dimensions of the economic situation and could provide a better solution to the crisis than the expertise of the economically and politically savvy.

Once again politicians, who are more concerned of holding power than of the future of their own country, are ready to prostrate themselves before and pay homage to the idol of the Demos. Papandreou facing in Parliament a no-confidence vote and the ousting of his government promptly announced a referendum that would decide the future of the country, hoping that this would allay the anger and opposition of the people against the austerity measures, imposed by the EU, and at the same time put an end to the disarray within his own government that itself stems from the revolt of the people. It’s clever politicking to avoid defeat and save for him the prime ministership. But he is doing this at the expense of the future well being of the country, as it would take years for Greece to recover from the shock of a default if the electorate voted for it, which is highly likely. This is no less than the revisiting of the ‘sinful’ genius of his pere who himself was the preeminent progenitor of the economic ills that Greece is presently plagued with. The fils merely continues , like father like son, the ‘sins’ of his sire in a more acute form and projects them into the future.

World Bank president, Robert Zoellick said that “if voters reject the plan, it’s going to be a mess.” Economists claim that the immediate effects of a default would probably be a 20 percent to 30 percent drop in domestic demand and a fall of 5 to 10 percent of domestic product. Evangelos Venizelos, the Finance Minister, and his deputy broke ranks and opposed the referendum, saying it would jeopardize Greek membership in the euro zone. Ilias Nicolakopoulos, professor of political science and close to the governing socialist party, stated that a “referendum would put the country in danger of blowing everything up.” In contrast, Henry Ergas writing in The Australian, on November 3, 2011, “Greek Vote a Banana Republic Moment,” praises Papandreou for having the “balls” to propose the referendum, and compares him to the gutsy warning of Paul Keating’s “Banana Republic.” He says, that “to call a referendum on the austerity program is hardly irrational. But he adds the caveat, “true, it is a gamble, and a risky one.” Nonetheless, “the best hope of what comes next must lie in securing a genuine popular mandate.”

Regrettably, however, Papandreou’s proposal of a referendum does not rise from his “balls” but from his impotence. Unable to lead and convince the country, as a weak leader, to accept the inevitable “scenario, Greece must face a lengthy period of austerity and structural reform,” Papandreou passes this leadership to the impassioned people to decide whether to accept or not this scenario. Professor Ergas’ quote of Sophocles, “truth is always the strongest argument,” though generally accurate, is misplaced in the context of a long corrupt electorate that the fiscal profligacy of past governments accustomed it to indulge in ‘free suntans’ in sunny Greece. In such circumstances, the only truth that this pampered electorate will accept is the continuation of these free suntans at public expense. And that is why they will vote NO to austerity measures and thus turn the referendum into an ogre for the future economy of Greece.

Fortunately the proposed referendum like the balloon it was fizzled out within twenty four hours. Under external and internal pressure Papandreou reneged his proposal and withdrew it. Tonight (November 4, 2011), he places his fate on the lap of the god, parliament, on a confidence vote. Even if he survives by the smallest margin his prime ministership is foreclosed.