|GREECE, PAPANDREOU, AND THE REFERENDUM Q & A || || |
Seemingly, out of nowhere -- but of course it came out of somewhere, primarily Papandreou’s realization that he is literally home (politically) alone as well as his well-known fixation with “democratic models” he keeps attributing to his living in Scandinavia when he and his family were pushed out of Greece by the military dictatorship.
These “democratic models” of course exist only in his imagination as Greece lies light years away, culturally, socially, and politically, from Sweden and her immediate neighbors. The last referendum in Greece was held in 1974, when the Greeks rejected constitutional monarchy in favor of the presidential republic form of government. Referenda, therefore, constitute largely uncharted territory for Greece, an idea that always attracted Papandreou’s attention given its “non-Greek” content and as an opportunity to break new ground and take the (generally backward) Greeks one step further on the road to Papandreou’s ideal vision of gadget democracy, a connected tomorrow, and a multicultural paradise where Greece’s “outdated” traditions and practices have been duly deposited into the dustbin of history.
Why this particular timing?
The Papandreou regime is isolated and thoroughly reviled by the overwhelming majority of the Greek electorate. Unpublished opinion surveys suggest that if a general election would be held tomorrow, Pasok, Papandreou’s party, “socialist” in name only, would suffer the most humiliating defeat in its 37-year long history, with its current parliamentary caucus of 152 reduced by 60 percent or more. With the entire opposition demanding elections now; with popular unrest growing by the day; with grass roots non-compliance movements billowing into nationwide campaigns of disobedience; and with Pasok ministers and parliamentarians not daring to show their faces in public for fear of physical attacks, Papandreou is well aware that both his political party and himself are practically finished.
So here comes the referendum as the regime’s Hail Mary attempt to avoid a complete and utter rout at the ballot box and, possibly, smear the opposition with some of the guilt for Greece’s collapse into an economic, social, and political Armageddon caused by bankruptcy and the country’s entanglement with an IMF-EU-ECB “bailout” that has proved itself the equivalent of a poison chalice..................................................