Thursday, January 1, 2015

Greece - False Hopes Better Than No Hope?

I must admit that, back in June 2012, I thought one would have to be kind of nutty in order to vote for SYRIZA. Beyond wonderful soundbites, that party seemed to have nothing but destruction on its agenda.

But then I came across an article which a blogger by the name of Heidi (a young American married to a Greek teacher) had posted on her blog HomeInGreece. The fact that I remember this article well to this day proves how much it had emotionally touched me. An excerpt of the article is below.

The essence of the article was sadness, disappointment and hopelessness after SYRIZA had missed the win by a small margin. I had not been aware how much hope had been riding on SYRIZA’s campaign, particularly among the younger generation. When I read Heidi’s comment that “a false hope is better than no hope”, it dawned on me that there had been much more to the election than party programs and policies.

Heidi discontinued her blog shortly thereafter without any comment whatsoever. When she started the blog, she had said that she wanted it to be a positive, upbeat place. I suppose she lost the strength to be positive and upbeat.

Which brings me to the upcoming election. If, two years ago when they seemed to be a bunch of crazies, SYRIZA could unleash so much hope among hopeless Greeks, one can only guess how much more hope they are unleashing now when they have become much more mature and when the hopeless have increased in number. When a very large part of the population would rather have false hopes than no hope at all.

This makes me wonder what would happen if there were a repeat of June 2012. If the scaremongering during the campaign succeeded in, once again, making SYRIZA a close number two. If a large part of the population had to, once again, realize that, instead of possibly false hopes, they were cheated out of any hope altogether.

When pondering this, I am beginning to wonder whether it would not be best if any form of hope, even a false hope, carried the day on January 25.

Heidi on June 19, 2012
“I started this blog because I wanted it to be a positive, upbeat place. Greece has a government now. A government almost identical to the government it has had for the past several years/decades. Is there a reason why things should have changed? Is there a logical, common sense reason why voters might have chosen a different party to form a government – a party that has not been the direct and foremost cause of the domestic factors leading to the crisis? Apparently the answer to these questions is “no, we’re happy with those parties. They represent us well. We trust them. Their leaders are honest, ethical, above corruption, and clearly work for the best interests of the Greek people.”

ND and PASOK campaigned, and came to power, on the platform of “renegotiating the agreement with the Troika.” While the campaign was going on, European political leaders and the German press sent constant inappropriate messages toward Greek voters, telling them that they must vote for these parties. (Inappropriate because voting in a national election is a domestic matter.) But as soon as the government was formed, the message changed dramatically: “no renegotiation is possible. You can ask all you want, but the answer is ‘no’.”

The nice thing about the campaign season, despite the annoying ads, is that people say nice things. Candidates make promises that people want to hear. Bad stuff is put on hold. But now the elections are over and, for the first time in two months, they’ve started again with the constant news reports on the new austerity measures starting in July. My husband is expecting another pay cut. We’ve lost our prescription drug coverage, but the number removed from the paycheck for health insurance hasn’t gone down at all. We just found out how much we owe (yes, owe – for the first time in our entire lives, we owe) for income tax – and it’s a four digit number.  A kind of large four digit number.  Every last one of those four digits is more than we can afford. But we have to pay it, because if we don’t, we get fined even more. And eventually thrown in jail.  [We owe even though we made much less than the year before.  It’s because the standard deduction was reduced to much less than half of what it was before, and pretty much all tax write-offs and credits were eliminated; there are also several new taxes that were added.  Everyone in Greece is dealing with this same thing right now.]

I have nothing but disgust and distrust for the new government. Their campaign tactics repulsed me. The demography of their voters (retirees for the most part) doesn’t impress me. They are proven failures, every one of them. There is no hope for Greece with this government. False hope would have been better than no hope.

It might seem hard to believe that in Greece in 2012, people would actually vote for “politics as usual,” but it isn’t. There are two explanations: 1) the Greek public was the victim of a campaign of terror launched by the old political parties, the European political and banking community, and the mass media (although only the media were really honest about doing it); and 2) old people tend to be conservative. Greece has a lot of old people.

I did, however, see one small glimmer of hope. I have a friend in Thessaloniki who voted (like everyone in my generation) for Syriza. So did his two brothers. His parents – retired now, one from coal mining and one from working in a factory, who went to Germany to find work after the war when Greece was destroyed but Germany was booming, and who have remained illiterate throughout their lives – have voted for ND in every election since ND was formed, for reasons that they themselves cannot articulate. This year, for the first time ever, they didn’t. They couldn’t bring themselves to vote for a different party, but they decided to stay home. “This is your future… you have to decide,” my friend’s father told him. Despite this gesture, Thessaloniki – due to a last-minute terror campaign by a local ND politician – experienced a massive increase in elderly voting, and was the only major city in Greece that voted for ND – even after voting for Syriza in May".

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