Sunday, May 6, 2012

General Elections 2012: Critical Decisions for the Future of Greece

Lambros Kostandaras as Andreas Mavrogialouros - the consummate Greek politician

Today is Election Day in Greece and we go to the polls after over two years of crisis after crisis, across the board austerity, austerity without justice, two years of a government in paralysis which could not find any options apart from resorting to the IMF, a government whose ineptitude exposed Greek citizens all over the world to undeserved ridicule and humiliation, a government which preferred to sustain a bloated, corrupt, greedy and self-satisfied public sector where service was simply a euphemism, thus creating a class of new poor and homeless rather than clean up its act, make a fresh start, draw a line and put an end to years of the cronyism which got it to this point. 

An unprecedented rise in people looking through garbage bins, lines in soup kitchens and suicides have left people wondering where they too will end up and how they are going to feed their families if they too should suddenly become unemployed and unable.  

The Greek government's inability to create jobs and attract investments to keep it's young and highly educated professionals in Greece to work for Greece's future, effectively reversed the trend of the previous 20 years which saw Greeks repatriating, and a new generation of emigres, Greece's young people and professionals, people with ability and talent started to look abroad for employment.

Europe too has its share of the blame, instead of acting quickly to nip what started out as a credit crisis in the bud by standing firmly behind its EU allies, its indecisive and inept leadership ummed and ahhd for months, allowing the spreads to rise dangerously and the markets to go haywire while all Greeks were branded as lazy, coffee drinking, tax evading beach bums. 

Demonstration after demonstation and the resulting violence didn't help Greece's case either.

Two years ago today in fact, on May 6, 2010, one of these demonstrations ended in tragedy when thugs threw Molotov cocktails (petrol bombs) at a Marfin bank building in the centre of Athens, torching the building and causing three people and an unborn baby to lose their lives...

We were all branded hot heads and hooligans, and the whole of Greece a hotbed of violence, violence
which was projected all over the world with great zeal by the world's media, nevermind that most of the demonstration violence was concentrated in little pockets around Syntagma Square and one or two blocks down the road people were able to sit at cafes peacefully continuing to drink their coffee. 

All this culminated last November with the resignation of elected PM George Papandreou and the appointment of Loukas Papademos as caretaker Prime Minister in order to get austerity measures and Memoranda passed to ensure liquidity and avoid 'official' bankruptcy. 

Public prosecutors and special investigation units have uncovered major scandals in the last few months and there seems to be some willingness to bring the perpetrators to justice. With the jailing of former Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos, his wife and daughter a thread has begun to unravel. We hope Akis will not accept to be the only victim and that he will spill all the beans, taking his fellow 'untouchables' in power who didn't hesitate to put their hand in the honey jar of public sector corruption down with him and thus beginning the catharsis essential to Greece's new beginnings. 

It is time to think of all these things before casting our votes today for those of us who vote in
GreeceNow it is up to us to speak. 

As we set off to the polling booth, we will repeat here, what we wrote on the day of the 2009 elections, simply because it is all still valid:

Our only criteria is what's best for
Greece and our people, both in Greece and all over the world. Whichever party wins the elections, (if anyone does) we want them to put Greece and it's interests, both domestic and international, above everything else and that means taking many decisive and effective steps starting from Day 1! 

Greece does not have the luxury of time to grant any government 100 days to adjust!

Steps must be taken to save the economy from it's downward spiral and this involves a lot of things:

imposing and collecting taxes equitably, from each and everyone who earns income and not just the salaried employees (who have been milked dry by the barrage of extra taxes demanded in the last two years),

cracking down on all those who seek and get payments on the side, forcing people to bear unbearable debt burdens just so that they can obtain medical treatment or education for themselves or their loved ones, things to which they are entitled as part of a functional and organised society,

collecting social security payments from all, employees and public or private sector employers alike, to ensure continuity of pensions and benefits for those who qualify,

ensuring that everyone gets paid fairly, and does the work they are paid to do, whether they are in the public or private sector, whether or not they are related to, or political cronies of, the people in power,

ensuring that the public service is streamlined and brought down to manageable proportions so that it is not a burden to the National Economy by appointing employees based on their qualifications and their ability to do their job, not who they know, and by providing objectives and incentives to all employees, to ensure the high quality of the services provided to the public-at-large

and above all,

enforcing the laws of the country which should be applicable to everyone irrespective of the status of the person involved, rich or poor, whether they have connections to the corridors of power or not. Justice has to be seen to be done, quickly and equitably to be effective.

We personally will applaud any government that puts an end to the endemic corruption in our country and which effectively has placed us in this unenviable position. It is time to act to change all this and it needs to be changed from the top down!

The best way to lead is by example… let's hope all those politicians who have put their name forward for election remember this if they get elected.

Think, and above all, vote wisely - for Greece's sake, for our sake!

Kali Psifo :)

For those who love the classic Black and White Greek Movies here is one of our favourites, timeless frighteningly appropriate, especially in view of the corruption scandals that have occurred over the years and particularly those that have come to light more recently. It's a political satire, ' Yparhei kai Filotimo' with Lambros Konstandaras as Andreas Mavrogialouros, the consummate Greek politician...

Andreas Mavrogialouros is a minister of the Greek government who goes to visit a small village for the inauguration of a local maternity clinic. Going there he gets more than he bargained for but in the process discovers that his associates have been fooling him for years, using state funds to accumulate riches for themselves... 

Sound familiar? The film is over 50 years old and not much appears to have changed since then, but we are hopeful that this time they will...we no longer have the luxury of indulgence.... 

We at Global Greek World are hoping that our politicians have finally got the message and are genuinely ready to shed the dreadful image the people have of them. We are hoping that from tomorrow Greece will have a stable government that will change things for the better...


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