The ERT conflict
This time last year the loss of trust in the political system became obvious. In the 6th of May elections, the major political parties since the regime change faced bitter defeat and the body electorate questioned their leaderships.
In the following June elections, under the pressure of powerful dilemmas and the threat of the general collapse from a Eurozone exit, Mr. Antonis Samaras’ New Democracy barely came first and he was forced to compromise with the new circumstances created by the bailout and ally himself with his former political enemies in order to form a tripartite coalition government.
In the summer of 2012 most didn’t believe that Samaras’ government would last long or achieve its goals. They estimated that the tripartite government wouldn’t last three months.
They based their estimations on the fact that there is no culture of cooperation in Greece and the assumption that the three partners didn’t believe in the bailout program. Two had rejected it while the third had doubted aspects of it.
Those in the know noted that the party officials could never turn into bastions of change, since they had always served political games, populism and regression.
The truth is that they are partly wrong. For a year the parties and leaders fought each other, won a few battles and one could say that they left an impression, particularly overseas.
The three leaders made an earnest effort to rise up to the demands of the times.
You can’t teach an old dog new tricks though. Mr. Samaras’ partners never overcame their practices from the past. His confidants often acted as old time politicians, with some ministers only caring about their electoral clientele and their family interests.
Likewise, Mr. Kouvelis’ associates never understood the bailout requirements – Manitakis and Roupakiotis are prime examples, while Mr. Venizelos’ people never came to terms with PASOK’s downward spiral or managed to overcome the electoral angst.
So long as the government was defined by the bailout, things worked out. Bills were voted, loan installments were collected and the three leaders bought time. At some point it appeared that things were working out fine, that there were no real problems. The moment though reform measures were to be implemented, the reservations and other Greek political traditions popped up.
For a year now the reduction of the public sector and dismissal of civil servants has been postponed and delayed. The troika is about to visit and there is still no clear plan for such a crucial matter. It is rumored that the relevant Minister Mr. Manitakis suggested we ask the troika for a new extension in applying the promised and legislated bailout obligation. Then is when the ERT idea was dropped. In the heat of the moment and without a reform plan, the quick – “hegemonic” domestically and “spectacular” abroad – solution was opted, the “ERT reform”. That is how we ended up with blank ERT screens before a social conflict and major government crisis, which could turn out to be fatal for the national effort.
In ERT’s case it is proven that the country’s problem is that of reform and as such, deeply political. The country needs an extensive reform, political and economic. The sooner this is understood, the better for all of us.