Looking back on the years since the start of the financial crisis, I feel like we have achieved nothing.
I also can’t help feeling a bit naive because, for a moment, I thought we could change.
"Zero progress", ekathimerini.com, 16.04.2018.
If somebody knows well the history concerning the formation of the Modern Greek State should not be surprised at all!
I did not take into account that some things just don’t change.
Our political class was shaped in an environment defined by corruption,
partisanship, vested interests and mediocrity. It created a pervasive mentality.
Which can be found everywhere, I might add. So, why was the author surprised?
On one hand you had Diavgeia (the online public registry of activities relating to public procurements)
and, on the other, you had the good old deep PASOK fighting public sector reform.
New Democracy followed the same pattern, as it went on to vote and implement the bailout agreements while at the same time
clinging to old partisan methods. (I shall not delve here into the absence of consensus that cost the country so dearly.)
Diavgeia is just the veil. It is a futile attempt to convince the EU that there is some degree of meritocracy in Greece.
The Greek politicians know well their way around laws because they make them! So, the end result will always be the same. Cronyism, populism, corruption and hatred towards reforms.
And then came SYRIZA, which won the elections on the back of a pledge to combat corruption.
Its rule has proved to be a mix of deep PASOK and the old-school cronyist right.
Greece is inevitably moving backwards at great speed.
It would be silly to expect SYRIZA to implement serious reforms. We all know the political background of these guys who never worked a single day in their lives, at least most of them.
They are not different from all the rest.
I also failed to account for the fact that the country’s elite is either negligible
or is happy to do business with whoever is in power. Nor could I have imagined that the Greek crisis
would coincide with the spread of fake news, which hijacked the brains of frustrated Greeks with conspiracy theories and false hopes.
The Modern Greeks are neither frustrated nor have a brain to be “hijacked”. The opportunistic nature of all the Greek governments can explain why the cooperatives fail and the trade unions (usually corrupted) succeed.
Furthermore, in countries such as Greece with powerful interest groups, the socio-political commitment of the state is predominantly oriented towards the distribution of income without taking economic efficiency into account.
I also could not have foreseen the skill shown by Greek institutions,
from the judiciary to the public administration, to fend off every reformist effort.
Nobody wants reforms in Greece especially the public institutions and organizations. In reality, the Modern Greek society shows abhorrence toward everything foreign.
If somebody has the ability to look under the Western-like cover of Greek society, he will discover that the Byzantine-Ottoman mentality remains as the solid rock foundation which the whole Greek State is built on.
This deeply rooted mentality has become the trademark and the intrinsic element of the character of Modern Greeks.
This mechanism of internal split, in other words, the fluctuation between adoration and persecution of all foreign things is responsible for the deep mental gap between reality and ideology as well as hope and fear that Modern Greeks suffer from.
This mental crisis has made the Greek society not only confused, politically backward and economically underdeveloped but also dangerously sentimental and narcissist.
So what has changed? The bailouts brought severe cuts to wages and pensions.
A “solution” was found to the social security problem.
Banks are operating differently and certain undeniable cases of entanglement and corruption were busted.
The state finally has an idea of what it collects and what it spends.
Nonsense! In every sector of the Modern Greek life, from politics and economy to the arts and literature, this everlasting and traumatic vacillation unravels.
This vacillation is mainly responsible not only for the identity crisis of Modern Greeks but also for the ongoing, insurmountable rivalries concerning their political preferences which through a blame game, have led to chaotic, unresolved conflicts often baptized as attempts to regain “dignity” and “national sovereignty”.
But I am afraid of tomorrow.
We have reached a fiscal balance after much effort and pain.
But the country’s foundations, its institutions, are still rotten.
It goes without saying that the state and its attendant offices were prizes to be captured by rival cliques of politicians. There was little sense of collective loyalty to, or trust in, the state or its institutions.
Voters expected those for whom they had voted to help them to secure employment.
Greek politics have always been flooded by “the lavish dispensation of favors”, by “open bribery” and by “fraud”.
The political culture of the overwhelming majority of our politicians remains unchanged.
The vast majority of the public still has no idea why the country went bankrupt.
Foreign governments are fed up with the Greek problem; they do not want to hear talk of fresh loans.
When the foreigners see that the country has been hit with 82 tax law changes in 4 years, (more than 250 since the ‘80’s), plus 115,000 related ministerial decisions, why should they be “friendly” to Greece?
In the last 30 months alone, Parliament has approved six purely tax laws with 177 articles, and another 17 laws that included 71 tax clauses. For those clauses, 111 ministerial decision and 138 explanatory circulars were issued.
A rather conservative friend of mine often says I should abandon what he regards as lofty expectations
and get used to the idea that Greece has always been like it is and will never change.
I refuse to believe this is the case. The country simply has too much untapped potential for this to be true.
I wonder where the author sees that “untapped potential”. There is no untapped potential, only wishful thinking.
Question to Mr. Papachelas:
How long have you been living on planet Earth?