Tag Archives: Independent Greeks

The man who wasn’t there

Cartoon by Ilias Makris

Cartoon by Ilias Makris

Since he began his political career at the unusually young age of 28, Panos Kammenos has made a name for himself by being involved in high-decibel attacks on opposition politicians. For years, he was one of New Democracy’s attack dogs, poised to bite the necks of any passing detractor. Now a party leader, Kammenos finds himself struggling for political survival as his propensity for blood and bluster proves his very undoing.

His failure on Monday to respond to complaints from Independent Greeks MPs about his leadership prompted the kind of furious ranting that Kammenos, usually with the aid of a sheen of sweat, has made his trademark. “He is a coward,” barked Yiannis Manolis, another politician who has shunned the sotto voce school of oratory.

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PASOK and New Democracy: Still standing on Sunday?

There is little doubt that Sunday’s elections will deal painful blows to both PASOK and New Democracy. The question, though, is whether they will be knockout blows. Most indications are that despite their declining popularity Greece’s two main parties will survive.

Since 1981, PASOK and New Democracy have only once received a combined share of the vote that is less than 79 percent. This was in the most recent national elections, in 2009. It was the fourth consecutive elections in which the two parties saw their share of the vote decline but it would take a drop of monumental proportions on Sunday to keep the Socialists and conservatives from being in a position to form a government.

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Greece’s painful political transition

My fourth policy paper for the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung has just been published. It is on the subject of the Greek elections, what else? The aim is to look at the dominant themes in this campaign and the factors that Greeks will be contemplating before they cast their ballots on May 6. Despite the campaign being dominated by the rather sterile pro-/anti-bailout debate, there are actually a number of themes that will play a role in forming people’s opinions.

As the title suggests, this paper is an attempt to create a snapshot of the Greek political scene at a time when it is going through a major transition. As a result, parts of the picture will be blurry and incomplete because events are moving fast and there is no clear conclusion in sight. Nevertheless, I hope it provides readers with an insight into the tremendous economic, social and political changes Greece is undergoing.

You can read the paper in English here: http://library.fes.de/pdf-files/id/09061.pdf

You can read the paper in German here: http://library.fes.de/pdf-files/id/09060.pdf

In who we trust

Illustration by Manos Symeonakis for Cartoon Movement

An election campaign has begun and politicians who wear the labels of “right” and “left” have reverted to type. The conservative candidate is focusing on the nation, history and tackling illegal immigration while the Socialist hopeful is dreaming of rising GDP and social justice. Neither is talking about genuine reform, particularly in the public sector, or generating ideas about where growth could come from.

Greek election campaigns have always imbibed this form of stilted debate but this is not just a description of events on the domestic scene over the past few days, the contest between French President Nicolas Sarkozy and Socialist rival Francois Hollande has run along similar lines. In a speech on Sunday, Sarkozy invoked the spirit of Jeanne D’Arc and threatened to leave the European Union’s Schengen Treaty while Hollande promised lower retirement ages. Neither of them focused on tackling France’s public sector problems or the future of the French economy.

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