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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