A view of Greece from the Outside - Commentaries and Opinions
Saturday, April 26, 2014
A New River Flowing Through Greece?
My recent article about To Potami prompted long and interesting comments by an anonymous reader which I reproduce below (with thanks to the reader!):
About "To Potami" ("The River").
It was "invented" out of nothing (apparently), as a "one man
show”, less than one month ago. It has seen unprecedented media support by
apparently opposing sides (more fiercly from ex-PASOK supporting media but a
gentle boost from center-right media, too). Mind you, the people behind those
media are the same that have been in cahoots for 30 years with PASOK. The same
people that don't pay their fees for state TV frequencies, that are bankers,
own football teams, oil and construction companies. The people that have been
making the money with that establishment. The same media, up until a few months
ago, were trying to resurrect PASOK or it's new masqueraded transformation
called "The Olive Tree" (Elia). The "Elia" experiment was a
last ditch effort by Venizelos to make forget the voters that he is PASOK.
Alas, the euro-elections are closing and polls show that neither PASOK nor Elia
seem to work.
And lo and behold! Instantly, "To Potami"
appears, with one man who has worked for years for the same media magnates (and
an ex-PASOK member in "his youth", as he says). One day BEFORE the
foundation of his party, when nobody knew what his positions would be,
newspapers already had polls out giving him no less than 7%!!! Everyday you
could find 3 newspapers, with 10 page coverage of a party that nobody knew
about! There are other parties that get born and die and nobody writes 5 lines
and suddenly Theodorakis comes and 10 pages in all the ex-PASOK supporting
newspapers. The TV channels (owned by the same people) even plan to invite him
in the pre-electoral debate, although, in all past debates, the rule is that in
the debate are invited parties that are already represented either in the
national or european parliament. He is none of the two but they want to invite
him. He is running all around Greece, when someone asks him "where does he
find the money to found a party, finance publicity" etc, he replies
"we have no money, we have small donations from friends and keep it
simple". There is a joke about this actually because everywhere he repeats
"I have been working since I was 16 years old". And someone from the
crowd replies "I have been working since I was 16 years old and now I am a
pensioner, but I still don't have money to make my own party".
You ask him where he stands politically, he replies
"we want to govern, either with left or with right, and if people want to,
why not, I could become the PM". Still to this day, his "founding
program" is a vague collection of trivialities and generalizations that
seem to be written in part by George Papandreou and in part by Tsipras.
You want a hypothesis? The Greek elite is watching
Samaras' goverment trembling, as PASOK is in shambles and Samaras lately lost
some MPs that wouldn't vote for goverment policy. Samaras is now down to 151
MPs and PASOK doesn't seem in position to be able to help New Democracy form a
new goverment after the next elections. The next national elections, however,
are close. More probably in autumn. Worst case, in April 2015 because Samaras
will need 180 votes to elect president of the repubblic and only has 151. The
same elite doesn't want Tsipras to take power alone. They see that PASOK can't
be resurrected despite the "Elia" trick. So what do they do? They
jettison PASOK and create "To Potami", which stays intentionally
ambivalent. So that in ANY case, it may form a goverment with either ND and
SYRIZA, so that the Greek elite can maintain its grasp on things.
How does it sound to you? Too conspiracy-like? Well,
I don't know. How often do you have in Austria 10-page reviews for a party out
of nothing, with no positions and headed by someone who only knows to smile
well to cameras and attract women with a gaze to the infinite, while using
theatrically studied gestures with his hands? By the way, in a poll, 75% of
Potami's voters are women. Exactly because Theodorakis was always the kind of
"glamour, smooth operator" type of TV journalist that appealed to feminine
To Potami aims to a) cut votes from SYRIZA, specially
the more center-left voters that once voted PASOK, b) be vague enough to be
able to cooperate with New Democracy without being called traitor of its
positions, and c) if all goes south and SYRIZA wins the elections, to be needed
by SYRIZA to form goverment and thus become the controlling factor and, as last
resort, make the govermet fall if SYRIZA follows the "wrong way".
And consider that I am usually a liberal voter with a
deep personal disgust towards Tsipras. But that doesn't stop me from trying to
find a logical explanation behind miracles. Do you know that the founding
conference of his party was transmitted LIVE through internet by the biggest
center-left circulation newspaper and 2 more big portals (one of which
center-right)? Things UNPRECEDENTED in Greek political history. About 3 hours
live transmission on the first page of three of the biggest Greek portals. Do
you know how many newly founded parties would beg for just 1 portal to do that?
Do you know how much MONEY it costs to occupy for 3 hours such portals?
I doubt Theodorakis awaits for your advice. Judging
from the powerful Greeks that promote him through their media on a daily basis
like the best thing since sliced bread, I bet he has an entire army of professional
image makers. But as I said, he has a precise role to play, so be patient with
him and do not despair. His mission is not to start a blaze right now. His
mission is to put out SYRIZA's fire.
Just so that you learn a bit of the inner facts, I
managed to find the first page of one of the several newspapers that
shamelessly promote Theodorakis. This newspaper was supporting PASOK. As PASOK
started declining, it started supporting New Democracy more. Now it's
supporting New Democracy and Potami, against PASOK. It's a top selling
newspaper in Greece.
Title of the front page: "The River is washing
them ashore! This "transmission" threatens to finish off PASOK!
Venizelos a simple spectator. DIMAR (Democratic Left) inside the vortex. SYRIZA
also wet! Internal polls give even double digit percentages!"
As the blog's title says, "8 pages of apotheosis
for the River".
But take whatever you like. From Alafouzos' group
(Kathimerini, SKAItv) to Real.gr to Ethnos, to any other "establishment's"
media group, they are boosting him like there is no tomorrow. SKAITV was one of
the portals showing him live for hours. Don't expect to see Tsipras treated the
Greeks always have the "lost vote"
syndrome. They don't want to vote for a party that won't make it to the 3%. So
this is why the media already gave Potami 7% before we even knew that it
existed. Now they give it 10%. Give it another month, they will give it 20%.
And Theorodarkis plays for the villagers the story of
the "poor, independent guy who tries to make a party against the bad Greek
The owner of the newspaper in the link was prosecuted
for money laundering and tax evasion, after he was caught at the French-Swiss
border with 4 mln euros in his trunk. Now he moved to Switzerland. He bought an
estate with 2 residential complexes outside Zurich, in Kilchberg.
This is how Alexis Tsipras started, too. With the
difference that Tsipras didn't have acting talent and wasn't trained to lean
his head to one side and look at the camera at 3/4 profile, so you concentrate
on 1 eye only, the other being lost in a semi-shade, which is the preferred
studied look by Theodorakis and makes women melt.