Greece Travel Guide logo

Greece Travel Guide


 Greek Island Guide


Hotels of Greece



Matt's Greece Travel Blog

Elections in Greece 2007

Matt and PigI have not written in my blog in awhile. Actually I wrote something but after I re-read it decided that I was beginning to sound like an extremists, even to myself, so I left it off the site. It was about Greek politics. But in the time I was not writing on my blog I managed to pretty much complete my Chios website

The next task is Tinos, This should be easier. Smaller island. But once I start a site I never know how many pages it will have because I will look at a photo and it will give me an idea and then that breeds more ideas and then I have to decide what not to write about.

I have had a few stressful issues, some personal, some about the war and politics, and I was complaining about being in America to a friend of mine who lives in Greece, an American who actually only lived in the states when he went there for University. I thought his reply was worth putting on the site. It will give you an idea of what the last elections in Greece were about, who won and what is wrong with the world that surrounds Greece. Kind of makes me want to move back there.

Hi Matt,

Greece is actually a lot saner, I'm coming to believe, than the US. Five years ago I wouldn't have said the same thing. We had a mercifully short election season (4 weeks), resulting in the re-election of the Karamanlis government, which is centre-right. He is raising pensions and basic salaries for a range of professions, cutting taxes and trying to put the economy back in order after some ridiculous debt-financed development during the PASOK years. More and more things are going online here, making life easier, and the network of KEPs Kentro Exypiretisis Politon is increasing, which means that we can take care of all the bureaucracy a bit better. There is really a long way to go until the public sector becomes productive, but things are happening.
George Papandreou lost the election, with a 4 percent drop in support: it's rare that the main opposition party loses support. This is a testament to their total lack of credibility in most things. Their platform comprises mostly empty promises and glowing adjectives and adverbs. In contrast, Karamanlis campaigned on the basis of the 2008 budget, which has real benefits, and will be voted on in November.
The contrast with the US is great: a limited election season, politicians being brought down to earth, greater transparency, cheaper politics. There are definitely problems, such as the pension crisis, which will blow open a hole in public finance to about 450% of GDP by 2030 (if we believe OECD forecasts), but the parties are theoretically starting to work on this in the coming weeks. The fires have taken a toll, and highlight the problems with the public services, but in general these are considered very extreme events, and their memory has largely started to fade, only 3 weeks after they occurred. There has been a huge outpouring of private support and charity, and the government has promised all kinds of measures.... let's see what actually happens. Unless there is real local commitment, I feel that not much will be done.
Contrasting this to the US: a 2-year Presidential election season, with probably over $ 2 billion being spent on all elections next year (primaries, state, congress and presidential). Candidates like Mitt Romney or Rudy Giuliani who strike me as being totally arrogant and, frankly, nasty. The Iraq war costing $ 2 billion a week, while schools, infrastructure and healthcare crumble. The incessant need to consume, the ground being laid for bombing Iran... No, I'm thinking more than every that things are better on this side of the Atlantic. Sure, nothing is perfect, but on the other hand, the playing field has never been more level for Greek citizens, in Greece and in the EU, and stability and sanity are gradually being agreed upon by the two major parties.
I think that in the US, the next 14 months, which will bring us through the primaries and to the elections in November 2008, will be a time of heightened political tension which will drive extremism, at home and abroad. Iran is playing a very clever, slow waiting game. I have the feeling Israel will probably pre-empt things, as they did in Lebanon last year and with the bombing attack in Syria early in September, against alleged nuclear targets. I feel that more than ever we are sitting on a powder keg with a slow-burning fuse, and something will explode sooner rather than later. Maybe it's Bin Laden's latest call for jihad against Musharaf in Pakistan? Maybe it's Lebanon imploding again? Maybe it's some new Iranian strategy in Iraq or the Persian Gulf to draw the US into an attack? It's very hard to tell. The only sure thing is that broadly speaking, the initiative is in the hands of political and religious extremists in Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Gaza, Pakistan and Afghanistan, and that's not a good situation to be in, for anyone.
Anyway, I'm going to sit out the US political process until a Democratic candidate is decided in the primaries, or until Bloomberg decides to run. If Bloomberg runs, I'll probably vote for him as a protest vote (depending on his platform, of course). Otherwise, I'm hoping it will be Hillary, as one of the least bad candidates. It's always this way, I suppose. And, if I have any energy left next year around March-April, I may try to get re-involved in getting out the Democratic vote in Greece. But more and more I feel that individuals votes are irrelevant, and that elections are decided in favour of very powerful yet very limited special interests, and no matter how much outrage there may be among the "average citizens", there are few real political options available.
Or maybe I'm just burned out :-)
Anyway, please keep up your good work with these websites: they are a really valuable tool, particularly the history sites.
Keep well,

E-mail me with questions and comments or join my Greece Travel Facebook Page

Olympico Jewelry

Return to Matt-Blog Index