As Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras spent his time contemplating his future, sitting in his comfortable office in the Maximos Mansion on the famous Herodus Atticus Avenue in the center of Athens, the idea that he would be obligated to visit the President of the Republic and ask for early elections (for the reason he did), could not have possibly crossed his mind.
He certainly could not imagine that his reason for wanting early elections would be that he would lose two recent elections with such a large margin.
Consequently, he was forced to ask for early elections under the most unfavorable terms he could have imagined.
His visit to the President of the Republic was merely a formality required by the Constitution. The decision to have elections was really taken by the only authority that counts: the all-powerful citizens.
Four years ago, the people decided to give Mr. Tsipras the opportunity to rule. They tested him. They gave him every opportunity and more.
As a result, whatever he could contribute, he has already contributed; any damage he could do, has been done.
It was time for change. So that the country and the people would not lose another year and so that there wouldn’t be further damage made.
This is the essence of Democracy. That is its greatness. It imposes seismic political changes “without anyone even getting a bloody a nose.”
The changes take place in the most natural way: one Prime Minister leaves, another takes his place. And the people continue and remain the final arbiters.
It may seem to us that what is going on today in Greece is a simple matter. We take it for granted.
However, it has not always been so. Greek history is a troubled history. With tragic events and long memories that divided the people that wounded the country and held it back.
There were also, however, significant moments which allowed the country to take more positive than negative steps.
As a result, a state that began with a handful of soil and islands that the Turks could have drowned in blood, had the Great Powers not intervened, would eventually evolve into a member of the European Union and the Eurozone.
Of course, the post-junta years were not without problems. And let’s not forget that the junta collapsed because of the Turkish invasion of Cyprus – a very heavy price to pay.
For decades the country was under the rule of demagogues and the state eventually went bankrupt – with all the consequences that ensued.
But having maintained its democratic system, under a proper government, Greece will gradually be able to rectify the damage and recover its rhythm.
The good thing is that in democracies the people can fix their mistakes.
And this knowledge is a great comfort…