An electorate under surveillance

Never has a Greek population gone to the polls under such international pressure — at a level close to blackmail complains left-wing daily To Ethnos. Nonetheless, Athens’ partners have chosen their man — conservative Antonis Samaras — and not left-wing leader Alexis Tsipras.

Published on 15 June 2012 at 15:13
Alexis Tsipras: “It's my turn!” Antonis Samaras, “Hey, hands off!”

There has never been anything like it in the history of modern Greece. In my 30 years of covering Greek and international politics, I have never seen anything resembling this foreign interference in Greek elections, which is yet further evidence of the humiliation inflicted on our country.

Now it seems that the most lowly leaders in the most insignificant countries in Europe have the right to tell the Greek population how to vote — something that would have never been tolerated before the country was placed in tutelage by the memorandum signed by George Papandreou and his associates.

It is hard for us to believe our eyes and ears when almost every day we read and hear German Chancellor Angela Merkel and her Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble command the Greek people to vote for Samaras and not for Tsipras. And they are not alone.

Backed up by the chorus of the pyramidal bureaucracy in Brussels, France’s socialist president François Hollande and Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti have demanded exactly the same thing, and their call has been re-echoed by all of the European institutions — the Commission, the ECB, the European Parliament — and the rest of the Eurozone.

Syriza in with a chance

Such is the result of the political hysteria that spread across the continent in the wake of the early general elections on 6 May, when the pro-memorandum parties suffered a massive decline in support which reduced their share of the vote from 80% to 30%. New Democracy, which topped the poll, scored less than 19%, while Syriza [the radical left coalition] became the country’s main opposition party with 16.8% of the vote.

In view of its performance on 6 May, Syriza can legitimately expect to be in with a chance of winning this election, and it is this outcome which has struck fear into the hearts of the Germans. Having said that, the main cause for concern is not what Tsipras intends to do if he becomes Prime Minister. What is troubling Berlin is the fact that a Syriza victory will pave the way for the first far-left government to take office in Western Europe since 1950.

It will mean that the left will once again come to the fore — and in a critical time of economic crisis. Following the end of “real socialism” in 1989 and the fall of the Eastern Bloc in 1991, the Germans and the other European leaders thought that they were permanently rid of the left.

Regardless of the policies that it may adopt, the Germans are now intent on doing all they can to prevent the formation of a left-wing government in Greece, and that is why they are crudely attempting to intimidate the Greek population into voting for Samaras.

“The real situation in Greece”

Never in his wildest or most paranoid dreams could Antonis Samaras have imagined that the German Chancellor along with the French President, the Italian Prime Minister and the President of the United States would be campaigning for him.

If, in spite of this international assistance, Antonis Samaras obtains the worst result — not counting the success of the party’s 19% score on 6 May — in the history of New Democracy, then these leaders can be proud of their political talents.

If the New Democracy result is still low, that is to say around 30%, even if the party tops the poll Samaras will have to accept conditions that may deprive him of the post of prime minister. However, this is a hypothesis which is of limited interest to the Greek people, at least for the moment.

Much more important is the Wolfgang Schäuble’s recent declaration to the effect that "the real situation in Greece, which is one of painful crisis caused by bad financial management, will not be altered by the result of the elections.”

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