Tag Archives: Giorgos Karatzaferis

Saving private wages: heroic act or con trick?

Illustration by Manos Symeonakis

If you walk along Adrianou Street, which runs alongside the Acropolis, in Athens you can brighten up your stroll by taking in one of the games of three card monte that often takes place there. It’s entertaining to watch the dealers work with their shills to display wonderful sleight of hand and mesmerizing misdirection as they fool punters. But if confidence tricks are your thing, you might be better off walking a few hundred meters up the road and visiting Parliament because the street hustlers have nothing on Greece’s politicians

Within minutes of PASOK’s George Papandreou, New Democracy’s Antonis Samaras and Popular Orthodox Rally’s  (LAOS) Giorgos Karatzaferis completing their make-or-break talks with Prime Minister Lucas Papademos on Sunday night, statements about battles being fought and rights being salvaged were launched into the Athens night.

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The Greek crisis and the politics of uncertainty

My latest policy paper for the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (Friedrich Ebert Foundation) in Germany looks at the effect the economic crisis in Greece is having on the country’s political system.

In English: http://library.fes.de/pdf-files/id/ipa/08570.pdf

Previous papers for FES:

Greece, a year in crisis: Examining the political and social impact of an unprecedented austerity programme: http://library.fes.de/pdf-files/id/ipa/08208.pdf

Young Greeks: The danger of losing a generation: http://library.fes.de/pdf-files/id/ipa/08465.pdf

The parallax view

We will probably never find out exactly what happened at Syntagma Square on Thursday, when an anti-austerity protest degenerated into an all-out brawl between members of the Communist union PAME and the black block of rioters intent on wreaking havoc.

The unionists argue that they were aware of a plot by the rioters to disrupt the peaceful protest, as they had done a day earlier, and took measures to stop them. Photographs and video footage seem to support the theory that the hooded troublemakers were lurking among groups of other protesters, biding their team before launching an assault on the riot police in front of Parliament.

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Tribal politics

The booing rose and died again as Piggy lifted the white, magic shell.
“Which is better — to be a pack of painted Indians like you are, or to be sensible like Ralph is?”
A great clamor rose among the savages. Piggy shouted again.
“Which is better — to have rules and agree, or to hunt and kill?”
Again the clamor and again — “Zup!”
Ralph shouted against the noise.
“Which is better, law and rescue, or hunting and breaking things up?”
Now Jack was yelling too and Ralph could no longer make himself heard. Jack had backed right against the tribe and they were a solid mass of menace that bristled with spears.

Illustration by Manos Symeonakis

William Golding’s “Lord of the Flies,” a tale of stranded English schoolboys who veer between camaraderie and savagery as they try to survive on an uninhabited island, is a story you don’t forget very easily. Nevertheless, we should be thankful to Greece’s politicians for regularly reminding us of its key themes such as clashing impulses, moral quandaries and the desperate pursuit of power.

Even more than usual, the country’s political scene has closely resembled for the last few weeks the unforgiving and unnegotiable terrain of the island where Ralph, Jack, Piggy, Roger, Simon and the others were cast adrift. We are used to the mundane barbs from George, Antonis, Aleka, Giorgos, Alexis and the others being punctuated by the odd dose of vitriol but the political language recently has utterly caustic. Grave accusations such as those of betrayal, lying and inciting violence are now being thrown about in Parliament like backgammon dice in a kafeneio.

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Desperately seeking a vote of confidence

Illustration by Manos Symeonakis

Picture the scene: It’s two weeks after you’ve led your party to a disappointing election defeat against a faltering government. A high-profile member of your party is mounting a leadership challenge that will require the party faithful to make a choice. What do you do? Recognize where you and your party have gone wrong and explain how you plan to put it right? No. Instead, you call for a vote of confidence from your MPs, which threatens to tear your party apart.

Fast-forward almost four years and you are now prime minister. Your country is standing on the precipice of economic collapse and your foreign partners — who are for the time being preventing this collapse — are losing faith in you. What do you do? Set out clearly what you want to achieve and how you will achieve it? Convince your own party that there is a clear path toward salvation? No. Instead, you make a bungled attempt to form a government of national unity with an opposition that has no appetite for it, reshuffle your Cabinet to appease wavering deputies and then you call for a vote of confidence.

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