Friday, May 04, 2012

Government versus people - Greek elections 2012

In the picture you can see so much of how the current Greek political scene has changed since the last national elections in 2009. Then, a rally by a major political figure would have taken place in Thessaloniki's central Aristotelous Square with the space dutifully filled with party supporters bussed in from all over northern Greece.

The security needed would have been more low key and the adoring public would have been allowed to approach and even talk to their leaders. This is no longer possible for most of the country's most political elite and instead of adoration party stalwarts like PASOK's Evangelos Venizelos are reduced to ever more convoluted ways of appearing popular whilst hiding behind layer upon layer of security.

Instead of wide open squares the dwindling number of party faithful are corralled into narrow strips in order to bulk out numbers for the TV cameras which work hard to create a sense of mass and enthusiasm.

In this particular case PASOK packed out the front rows with a hundred or so members of its youth wing, disguising the fact that behind them was just 1000 or so supporters, whose average age seemed to be in the 50's.

For both PASOK and New Democracy participation in a pro-austerity coalition government has whittled away at their electoral base and for the first time in a generation they are faced with the real prospect of not being able to form a government, either on their own or together.

Instead of adoration and cheers party officials are often meet with jeers and something yoghurt thrown by disgruntled voters, disgusted with austerity policies.Hence the heightened security measures that underline the gulf that has grown up in the last few years between a discredited political elite and an electorate at the end of its tether.

For many 6th May national elections will mark the end of an era begun in the 70's in which PASOK and New Democracy dominated national politics and promises to usher in a newer, more volatile chapter in public life in Greece.

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