“I am not a politician” says the new Greek PM – a banker who’s never stood for public office

This post was written by Reuben on November 11, 2011
Posted Under: Economy,European Union,Greece

Well, my friends, the suspension of Greek  democracy appears to be complete. When Papanderou was forced out, to be replaced by a government of national unity. I remarked:

Greece’s multi-party democracy has in effect been supplanted by one party – The Austerity Party. The political elites have, in effect, formed a cartel. Greece’s major parties imagine that they can force through the huge austerity package without facing the wrath of the electorate – just as long as they all in on the game

But even a few days ago, I did not grasp quite how far the shelving of democracy would go. I imagined that, at the very least, the National Unity government would be made of people whose parties had actually won some votes at election time, and who were planning to stand for office again. Not so. Meet Greece’s new Prime Minister, Lucas Papademos, former Vice-President of the European central bank.

“I am not a politician” he announced yesterday. Well no, he certainly isn’t. Politicians are people who have to do a whole lot of dreary things, like making themselves known to the  public, winning their confidence and standing in elections. Papademos, by contrast, has never stood for public office. He has assumed his position purely on the strength of his career in banking, and in particular his connection – via the ECB – with Europe’s political and financial establishment.

Neither does he intend to stand for office in the future. His sole function will be to ensure that Greece impoverishes its citizens enough that it can keep the interest payments flowing to Europe’s major banks. He will preside over the most important political and economic decisions that have faced Greece since the 1970s. And will be to do so without worrying a jot about the opinions of those who will have to live with his decisions – i.e. the people of Greece.

For Papademos, this is probably a fine way to cap to his grand career. He better just hope that he doesn’t find himself on the wrong end of a revolution. After all, the only democracy that exists in Greece today is on the streets of Athens.

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To contact Reuben email reuben@thethirdestate.net


Reader Comments


I’d love to see a retrospective analysis from Reuben on why it has taken so long/why the mainstream left have still not woken up to the dangers of EU federalism.

What I mean is that, since there weren’t really good arguments in its favour in the first place, there must be some ‘undercutting defeater’ group-psychological explanation, such as…

a) not wanting to acknowledge the democratic deficit *in res* because reports of federalist encroachment of national sovereignty were always absorbed into a narrative of transnational democracy *in mens*
b) false-consciousness leading to the transference of the impetus for genuine international revolution/progress onto the mechanisms of EU government and the bureaucratic federalist movement, or
c) any alternatives better argued?

Written By Hugh on November 12th, 2011 @ 12:16 am

Hugh, you raise a very good question. I think the answer has to with the particular shape that mainstream left wing politics has taken over the last 15 years. In recent times, the British left, far more than the right, has been infected by a “culture wars” perspective. Being left-wing has meant being tolerant and “metropolitan”. Hence all of those dreary comments about “Daily Mail readers”. Speaking to some lefties, you would think that the real enemy are not the inner-London based, and rather modernity-obsessed ruling class, but the suburban hordes who fly the flag and go to church. The background to all of this was obviously the major party of the mainstream left effectively giving up on what had hitherto been its main reason to exist – the struggle against inequality.

The result is that many on the left deemed it more important to parade their disdain for patriotism, and to differentiate themselves from the “little Englanders”, than to address the democratic questions raised by the EU.

Written By Reuben on November 12th, 2011 @ 12:42 am

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