50 years since the restoration of democracy in Greece: Political constipation and toxicity

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After the restoration of democracy in Greece in July 1974, Greece experienced 24 different governments with 17 persons as prime ministers, i.e. we had one government every two years.

I remind you that Kyriakos Mitsotakis after the elections of June 25 was the Prime Minister of the 25th post-opposition government, which is being formed in the country for the next term of Parliament, while the number of persons who served as Prime Minister remains the same with his re-election.

Some took the oath once and others more, such as Konstantinos Karamanlis in 1974 and 1977, Andreas Papandreou in 1981, 1985 and 1993, Costas Simitis in 1996 and 2000, Costas Karamanlis in 2004 and 2007, Alexis Tsipras as short prime minister in 2015 and his re-election in September of the same year, as well as Kyriakos Mitsotakis in 2019 and 2023. Of the 17 people who have been sworn in as prime ministers, four of them have served as caretakers, while some of them have been prime ministers in coalition governments. In fact, among these 17 people there is the first woman in Greece to assume the office of prime minister and was Vasiliki Thanou as caretaker in 2015.

Caretaker Prime Ministers were Ioannis Grivas in 1989, Panagiotis Pikrammenos in 2012, Vasiliki Thanou in 2015 and Ioannis Sarmas in 2023. Georgios Rallis served as Prime Minister taking over from the late Konstantinos Karamanlis in 1980, who was elected President of the Republic, Tzannis Tzannetakis took over during the turbulent period of 1989, as did Zolotas after forming coalition governments. In 2011, after a coalition government that emerged due to the political instability already brought about by the signing of the first memorandum, a year before, Lucas Papademos took over as prime minister, while Alexis Tsipras is considered prime minister of two coalition governments with AN.EL.

A bona fide political commentator who would like to evaluate the political situation prevailing in Greece over the last five years from a historical typologic approach, will easily concluded, leaving aside any casual and frivolous opportunistic ideological self-interest, that the government of Kyriakos Mitsotakis is perhaps the most stable, consistent and effective government that came to power during the transition to democracy.

The PASOK governments under A. Papandreou were the most innovative and emblematic in their social dimension, while the governments of K. Simitis were the most radical and historically pioneering in their economic dimension. However, the governance of the country by Kyriakos Mitsotakis includes and is inspired by aspects and characteristics of both the Papandreou and Simitis Governments, in terms of social and economic events, but also has another depth and another dimension in matters of defense, foreign policy as well as the operation and management of the state and culture.

I am not referring to the interim governments of PASOK after Simitis, New Democracy and Syriza, because intense disappointment will be difficult to allow us to be impeccable and objective. Of course, in the meantime, there have been sincere efforts with the presence of great political figures and their contribution, for example, of Konstantinos Mitsotakis, E. Venizelos, A. Loverdow, L. Papadimas, but the feeling of stability and practical treatment of everyday life was strongly and effectively addressed by the Government of Kyriakos Mitsotakis. These remarks are not the result of any ideological devotion to this “conservative” faction of the “right-wing” New Democracy.

Although many views expressed today by Syriza and PASOK seem to me much more conservative, they even cause political constipation and toxicity. The insistence of the leadership of these “left” party factions on policies, decisions, strategies and achievements of the Mitsotakis Government, such as the successful foreign policy, the strategic decisions in the defense of the country by Nikos Dendias, the decision of the US to give Greece a superiority and a serious advantage in the Eastern Mediterranean in equipping the country with F35s,  the Government’s insistence that if you want national territorial integrity and security against bullies and erratic and unpredictable neighbors, you must arm yourself, instead of addressing this policy with clarity and arguments, is answered by the Party Leaders Messrs. Androulakis and Kasselakis, with expressive ambiguities, sterile verbalisations, gibberish and small-minded remarks that end up becoming incomprehensible as petty political tricks.

In Australia, defence and foreign policy issues are dealt with across party lines. The two Australian main parties, representing 85% of the electorate agree and identify their political discourse with the government, regardless of whether the conservative Liberals or the more progressive Labour are in power. In matters of national defence, armaments and foreign policy, all opposition stops. In the defense of the country,  in arming Australia there is a common party view, full consensus, unanimity. There are no fanfares and half-talk. There is no place for party pats below the waist, there is no place for political bullying. On issues of external danger, alliances, on issues concerning place in history there is no partisan competition in Australia. Australia’s alliances with the Americans, with the Metropolis Britain, New Zealand, the Western world are not subjected to partisan competition.

In Greece, even a former Chief of the Army the Mr. Apostolakis, takes a small-minded, illusory, and politically marketable position, because he knows better than anyone else, as a former Chief of the Greek Army, the importance of the country’s armour and defence. Shame!

SYRIZA, while it had voted for the budget for defence spending of the Mitsotakis government, on the issue of the approval of new planes by the Americans and the donation of rich military material for land, sea and air weapons, its leadership remained silent for two whole days and then the speechless two-day event was replaced with gibberish and generalities. PASOK spoke instead of armaments for “social interest”. I do not know what the authors of these statements mean, but today Greece has one of the best social systems in Europe and even superior to that of Sweden.

Today, in Greece, from the point of view of social welfare, everybody has become lavishly a “Benefit recipient“, benefits of all kinds and increases and emergency aids. Even Bulgarians who arrive in Greece, acquire a Tax File Number and receive their benefits!! Why this political toxicity? As long as the opposition parties remain at the level of meaningless discourse and refuse to mature in cases where the national interest and its security come first, if they do not live with the problems of everyday life, but only with old party slogans and gibberish they try to declare their presence in politics, then rightly the people will keep them in opposition until they mature…

*Professor Anastasios M. Tamis taught at Universities in Australia and abroad, was the creator and founding director of the Dardalis Archives of the Hellenic Diaspora and is currently the President of the Australian Institute of Macedonian Studies (AIMS).

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