The unpunished politicians & eroded democracy of Greece

Thanos Dimadis:(Huffington Post 2-5-2001)  – Although ancient Greece is considered to have transmitted the light and ideas of democracy throughout the world, nowadays modern Greece seems to lack a real Democracy, a fact that makes Greek people feel even more frustrated. The current economic crisis hitting Greece is only one incidental reason for the general mood of depression that shadows the country at this moment. The main and unassailable explanation for the Greek people’s current gloominess is that they are feeling literally betrayed by the kind of their Democracy, in which they believed for well over the last three decades.
This kind of modern democracy, established in Greece after the collapse of the dictatorship in 1974, has evolved and developed as being based — among others — on the idea of the political system’s non-accountability. To put it bluntly, the members of the political system in Greece cared about protecting themselves from the punishment of the law while breaking the number one rule, which is always the cornerstone of any real democracy, namely, the equality between governors and citizens. So, what it comes down to is that democracy in Greece became over the years the regime of few and select people favoring those who had the political power in their hands. Greek politicians have been gradually transformed from the people’s accountable servants into a bipartisan elite group acting mostly for ensuring the rights of its members, many of whom inherited their parliamentary position from their parents. Until today, Greek politicians are still avoiding getting accountable to Justice even for cases where it is more than self-evident that there have been suspicions of corruption, breaking of law, abuse of power and prodigality of public money.

I am not proud of saying this, but the bitter truth is that after about thirty-five years of its establishment, Greece’s democracy resembles more the Eastern types of regimes rather than the typical Western Democracies which exist in other European countries. Because, in other European countries, even in the US, no one is above the law, let alone politicians whose public life must be constantly transparent, open to criticism and subject to any kind of inspection by Justice. However, this is not happening in Greece, where politicians are hidden behind an outrageous immunity which protects them from the effects of the law. So, what is the difference between the current political situation in Greece and some Eastern pseudo-democratic regimes against whom people inthe Middle-East are now fighting to overthrow? There is no actual difference apart from the free elections and freedom of speech, two things fortunately consolidated in Greece. However the operation of a real Democracy requires one more element, which, if it does not exist, can lead a country to economic collapse and political decadence, as is the case in Greece. There is the necessity of a governance that will not only seem moral, but it will be as well.

Today Greeks are addressing their politicians by yelling “Give back the money you stole” since it is obvious that the huge country’s debt was created in some degree by those politicians who, although they have been mired in corruption, they have never been led to Justice. Greek people are outraged not because they are forced to sacrifice their incomes because of the necessary fiscal adjustment of the economy, but because they know that their Democracy’s institutions are utterly unable or even reluctant to punish as harshly as required those politicians who became wealthy by driving the country to bankruptcy. So, this crisis in Greece is not only an economic meltdown. It is mostly a deep political crisis that Greece will depart only if its people end up deciding what kind of Democracy they envisage and how they can create it. 
While the current political system is being plunged into the waters of corruption, immorality and inefficacy, Greek people are getting more and more depressed and morose. This economic crisis should be turned into an unprecedented opportunity for the Greek nation to not only put in order its messy fiscal house, but, also, to put a definitive end to political behaviors that have hurt Greece all the previous years and eroded the meaning and mission of a real Democracy. The credibility and dignity of the political system in Greece may be restored, but only if the Greek society knows who those politicians responsible for the country’s economic falling down are , and how they will be punished in the same way as in any other well-governed democratic state of the West.

This is a reprint of an exceptional article written on the Huffington post. The original article can be found here:
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