On Sept. 20 Greeks march to the polls again – the fifth time in six years – to pick a new (or bring back) non-leader, some delusional few still believing it will make a difference in their lives and the destiny of the country.
Unless the name of the real Prime Minister of Greece – German Chancellor Angela Merkel – suddenly appears on the ballot they have no choice at all, although it would be nice to have a Hobson’s Choice added under the names of those running for Prime Minister so we could check “Leave it,” under “Take it or leave it.”
Since 2010, when failed then-Premier George “The Money is There” Papandreou of the PASOK Anti-Socialists went hat-in-hand to the Troika of the European Union-International Monetary Fund-European Central Bank (EU-IMF-ECB) to beg for what turned into two bailouts of 240 billion euros ($272.4 billion).
That came with attached harsh austerity measures, and since then Greece has been under the Outer Limits (“There is nothing wrong with your television set. Do not attempt to adjust the picture. We are controlling transmission”) control of the creditors.
Papandreou was tarred-and-feathered and run out of town on a rail after he suggested a referendum and finally bowed to two years of relentless protests, strikes and riots against big pay cuts, tax hikes, slashed pensions and eventual worker firings.
That destroyed the party his father founded and left him a pathetic figure relying on speaking engagements and teaching failed governance at Harvard and Columbia, showing even the Ivy Leagues can be disgraced.
After an interim coalition kept austerity humming, Antonis “Mr. Bean Counter” Samaras of the New Democracy Capitalists had his shot at trying to run Greece, which consisted mostly of bowing and scraping to Merkel and doing her bidding.
When, under pressure from the Looney Left SYRIZA and anti-austerity critics he made the fateful error of putting up his party’s own Vice-President for the symbolic and powerless position of Greek President instead of a unifying figure that would have kept him in office, the Jan. 25 snap elections found him thrown into the dustbin of Greek history too, even as he claimed the country was on the verge of recovery by essentially destroying it.
Then came SYRIZA leader Alexis “Che” Tsipras, an engineer and professional politician, a former Communist Youth leader who thought he would break the Troika, end austerity and that money would fall from the sky to save Greece.
He got Merkelized too and suffered the ignominious humiliation of reneging on anti-austerity promises he knew he couldn’t keep and never should have made, forced to choke on his own words and eat so much crow there’s none left in Greece.
Tsipras tried to put on the brave face that at least he had fought Merkel and the Troika but came out of that looking like Chuck “The Bayonne Bleeder” Wepner after Muhammad Ali gave him a broken nose and beat-down.
Tsipras joined the list of Greek leaders who believed they could save a country ravaged by generations of wild overspending and runaway patronage by New Democracy and PASOK, by a massive failure to harvest and promote world class products such as olive oil, honey, lamb and saffron, and put Clientelism ahead of meritocracy.
None should even be allowed to run for office but there’s a sucker born every second so they keep getting elected.
Tsipras didn’t just propose a referendum of the kind he crucified Papandreou for even mentioning, he reneged on that too after he asked Greeks to back him in opposing austerity only to turn around and spit in their faces – and ask them to bring him back to do it again.
If Tsipras, 41, beats New Democracy’s new leader, the old and tired 61-year-old Evangelos Meimarakis who has acquitted himself well in the campaign but never should have been in a position that should have gone to 46-year-old Harvard-educated Kyriakos Mitsotakis, the SYRIZA leader will go right back to implementing austerity.
So what will change? Nothing, except that it will get worse for Greeks who bought his line of blarney and a month or two later will start seeing big tax increases, including the hated ENFIA property tax he said he would eliminate but instead hiked.
They will deserve what they get, forfeit any right to complain and should then just shut up and take the medicine they begged for before drinking the Kool-aid Tsipras gave them before finding out it was cyanide, proving too many people vote and they’re the wrong ones.
So feeble is the field running for Prime Minister that the likes of Vassilis Leventis, a self-styled philosopher king who drones on and on and on in a TV program that’s as much comedy as politics (apart from the part where he wished the leaders of Greek political parties would get cancer) is about to enter Parliament with his Union of Centrists polling more than 4 percent.
That’s just behind the To Potami of former TV presenter Stavros Theodorakis, a collection of academics and eggheads posing as Greece’s saviors.
That Leventis is being taken seriously by Greeks shows that even Greek politics has no bottom and that many voters apparently have just given up. The conspiracy theorist and profane Leventis claims to have prophecies so he should see the rich and politicians will prosper and everyone else will suffer.