Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Greece, covered in mud and deeply divided

Sunday, December 21, 2014

The divisive conflict and polarization is generating further political and financial uncertainty, as elections approach

Greece, covered in mud and deeply divided

The heavily indebted and totally dependent on creditors and partners Greece is struggling to address its most critical structural problem which is none other than that of politics, while facing a slew of financial and social obligations in a state of decline and polarization. The first vote in the Presidential elections disappointed the instigators of the last political dice roll and excited the contenders for power. And of course it brought back international headlines doubting over the country's ability to overcome the long-term crisis.

The events on Friday saw Greek politics reached a new low of corruption and humiliation. Questionable people starred in these events and there is an attempt to even implicate the Prime Minister, greatly affecting the political environment and thus creating a very tense atmosphere ahead of the second and third vote for a new President.

State of decay

The accusations of Independent Greeks president Panos Kammenos and the television interviews of his MP Pavlos Haikalis that followed – where he tried to implicate the Prime Minister Antonis Samaras in he attempted bribery – have sparked a dangerous fire in the political climate. Mr Samaras appears enraged, accused Kammenos of hooliganism and Tsipras of falling very low in order to serve his political purposes.

The Prime Minister is essentially accusing Kammenos and Tsipras of colluding in order to block the MPs and the election of a new President because, if that is achieved, then the country's finances and future outlook will change for good.

Some of his ministers will even go a bit further and talk of “financial backers” who are playing their last card and want to create a state of tension to benefit themselves against the country's interest. They insist that Mr Tsipras has adopted conspiracy theories and is awestruck from Mr Kammenos' “stories”.

From the other side, it is true that Mr Tsipras' circle has more or less adopted Kammenos' accusations –  of an attempt made to bribe Mr Haikalis – and believe that the Prime Minister and his banker friends are implicated. The leader of the main opposition party himself is said to give great importance in the assurances provided by Lakis Lazopoulos regarding the validity of the accusations of his friend and fellow actor, Pavlos Haikalis.

According to all indications, Mr Lazopoulos, whom Mr Tsipras speaks with on a daily basis and treats like the prevailing expression of the so-called “social opposition”, played a decisive role in trapping the “shady” intermediate Mr Giorgos Apostolopoulos, who has coincidentally “been” with everyone for decades and some describe him as the “suitcase man”.

Based on all the aforementioned, it becomes clear that the political atmosphere in Parliament on Tuesday will be heavy and unbearable. After the baseless accusations of Mr Voudouris and Mr Parastatidis against independent MPs, including Mr Lykoudis, we may even have clashes in Parliament. There was no shortage of rage in Mr Lykoudis' face and words last Friday, to the point that he personally asked Mr. Tsipras to exclude Voudouris and Parastatidis from SYRIZA's ballots.

Negative climate

In any case, the accusations of attempted bribery of Independent Greeks MPs are creating a negative climate and do not allow much leeway in the upcoming votes. Despite the government officials' insistence that the MPs will perform their duties towards the country, the chances of the current Parliament electing a new President have all but disappeared. Even those who were wavering and were considering making that step are now having to think again, under threat of facing bribery accusations.

The President of PASOK, who is trying to stay out of all of this, argues that “provocative elements have unfortunately prevailed” and now nothing seems capable of averting the path to elections. It is very likely then that we are quickly headed for general elections amidst a state of conflict, tension and mudslinging. Quite a few are worried that things may get out of hand, benefiting the extremist forces and prompting them to take action/

With the political world covered in mud, the dirt having hit the fan and splattered in all directions, the institutions froze and Democracy left defenceless, all sorts of mischief may occur, or worse, be tempted to influence the developments.


The political system is insufficient, the creditors are suspicious

The threat is that this mischief will coincide with undesirable attitudes of the concerned depositors, who in the generalized uncertainty will likely want to secure themselves against the dangers. If a President is not elected on the 29th of December, everyone speculates that insecurity may prevail.

This means that we may have out-of-control situations from the start of the new year. In this case, anything can happen and “the country may hit rocks”, like the once Finance Minister Alekos Papadopoulos often says.

He believes that the political system is ill, that it is comprised, in all of its versions, old and new, from worn-out materials and as such cannot get the country out of the crisis. However, he considers the upcoming elections “liberating”, because they will highlight the “irresponsible leadership's” complete impasse, leading to new failures, which will in turn dictate the emergence of truly new forces which will dominate the in country's rebirth.

Nobody can accurately predict how things will work out. What is certain is that Greece is deeply divided, dangerously covered in mud and could easily hit the rocks. After all, our partners and creditors don't have the best feelings towards us. There is an abundance of suspicion, which after recent events has skyrocketed. Any government formed after these elections will have to face the stiff demand  from Berlin and Brussels to implement what was agreed. The government will face an immovable wall that will demand and claim the continuation of changes and reforms that will ensure financial stability over time. Namely, precisely what we tried to avoid and which lead us to today's endless and absolutely corrosive mudslinging.

Antonis Karakousis