Saturday, October 09, 2010

One may smile and smile and be a villain

Αντώνης Σαμαράς - Antonis Samaras, originally uploaded by Teacher Dude's BBQ.

As leader of the main Greek opposition party, New Democracy, Samaras in campaigning hard in the run up to the local elections in November. The vote is likely to be a crash test for the country's two largest parties who between them have dominated parliamentary politics for the last three decades and are seen by many people as the cause of many of the financial woes Greece faces.

Despite the fact that until 2009 the conservative New Democracy party, of which Samaras was a senior member of, the party is insisting that they had nothing to do with the massive deficicit that triggered the EU/ECB/IMF bailout and the concurrent austerity measures which have brought the economy to its knees.

Do not worship false idols

According to Samaras the fact that his party lied consistently about Greece's debt load (stating repeatedly in early 2009 that it would not exceed 4%) is nothing compared to the revelations that then opposition leader, Giorgos Papandreou knew perfectly well that the figure was nearer 15%. A fact that didn't stop Papandreou making a plethora of election campaign promises that he knew his PASOK party woud not be able to fulfill when it took power.

Faced with the choice between two failed political entities whose leaders have repeatedly mislead the electorate and continue to indulge in a frenzy of barefaced lies and deception it's not hard to predict that the turn out for the elections will reach an all-time low. On the one hand New Democracy is selling the idea that it has a secret plan to get the country out of recession, a lie so bold that one is reminded of Richard Nixon's secret plan to end the war in Vietnam during the run up to the 1972 elections. 

On the other hand New Democracy party hacks are flooding the airwaves with claims that the country's debt load is a largely a figment of PASOK party's imagination, deliberately inflated to make their conservative predecessors look bad in the polls. This must come as quite a revelation to the EU statistical agency, Eurostat which has repeatedly found yet more hidden state debt since it arrived and is beefing up its Athens team in order to figure out how much Athens really owes.

On the other hand prime minsiter Papandreou has repeatedly stated that PASOK will not introduce new austerity measures even while stating to the EU/ECB/IMF trioka that his government will take any and every step to meet the conditions of the bailout plan.

What neither party seems to have understood is that in our wired society the idea of internal and external audiences is rapidly disappearing as people use the internet to quickly gather and publish news whatever it takes place and in whatever language it is published. Yet old habits die hard and the temptation to promise anything to whoever you have in front of you without taking into consideration future consequences remains a key ingredient of Greek political rhetoric.

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