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Big scandals and little scandals

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Two things have been proven by the Zachopoulos affair. First is the immunity of Greeks to scandals, which have been classified into those that are huge and those that are no big deal. The manner in which funds are managed at the Ministry of Culture - a scandal shared by both major parties - falls...

Slender majorities and rule of inertia

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The premature end of the conservative administration under Constantine Mitsotakis in 1993 did much damage to PASOK. For the short-lived tenure of the New Democracy government bred arrogance among Socialist officials who scorned what is commonly referred to as the «brief interval.» No sooner had...

Distortions in the production of Greek books

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Umberto Eco once wrote that the only question that visitors to his library ever asked was «Have you read all these books?» In Greece the question should be tweaked to «Who reads all these books?» Figures from the National Book Center of Greece (EKEBI) reveal that in 2006 alone 9,209 titles were...

The question of a third political pole

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We are hearing a lot of talk about the need for a third pole in politics, for a party that will stand on an equal footing with the center-right New Democracy (ND) and socialist PASOK. Of course this is not the first time we have heard this argument - in fact, we hear it every time the two main...

A feeble plan for state management

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We just don't know what's worse anymore - the fact that the government is trying to pretend that nothing has happened, or the public's certainty that nothing will be done and that the Christos Zachopoulos affair is just another scandal that will be swept under the rug. Two suicide attempts, a...

God saved us, from quake and state

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The head of the Athens Geodynamic Institute, Giorgos Stavrakakis, believes that the «God looking over Greece saved the country» by putting the epicenter of Sunday's earthquake at a depth of 70 kilometers. The question, though, is what is the role of Greeks in this country? Because anyone wanting...

Reforms require greater trust

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The previous government had an excuse - in its first four-year term, it was faced with the difficult job of getting the country into the Economic and Monetary Union (EMU). It needed the social security fund reserves to make up the numbers, with the result that any thoughts of reforming the system...

News from the corruption front

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Great. We can rest easy now that the newly founded rural police force has spent 100,000 euros on «confidential expenses.» The war against corruption, launched in 2004, is bearing fruit, because we can be certain that these secret funds were spent on paying informers for tips on corruption in the...

Who drove Olympic to bankruptcy?

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The accounts of Olympic Airlines unionists concerning the activities of the political leadership that led in part to the company's financial demise are true. Of course they didn't give us the full story, because the politicians' decisions often entailed special privileges for OA workers. But,...

The monster begins to resemble us

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We were all shocked when we learned about a neo-Nazi group attacking immigrants in Germany. «The beast has reared its ugly head,» warned some newspaper headlines. But the most important thing is that the German people were shocked as well and they raised their voices, demanding that the guilty...

Politics is about ideas, not age

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Once upon a time, about 15 years ago, Greeks were crying out for the removal of the «dinosaurs» from the country's political arena. Many believed that the departure of Constantine Karamanlis, Andreas Papandreou and Constantine Mitsotakis would bring an end to the country's woes. The dinosaurs...

A hasty Venizelos, once again

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Evangelos Venizelos is said to be quite clever. And, in fact, he can be very charming on the TV screen. He can put a void concept into a thousand nice-sounding words until all meaning is lost. By the time he arrives at his conclusion, the viewer has already forgotten how he began. Still, that may...

The orbits of the left

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There is a strange theory making its way around PASOK and other leftist circles. Some are saying that the «die-hard rightist» Nicolas Sarkozy won the French election because Segolene Royal was not leftist enough. Gerhard Schroeder's failure to win the elections after seven years as chancellor...

The real Athens and visions of Paris

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We don't understand why Athens Mayor Nikitas Kaklamanis is so worried about the capital becoming like Paris or «other European cities,» because as citizens there is nothing we would like better. We only wish we had clean streets, broad boulevards, parks and fountains. Now, if in this far superior...

Panacea for all our woes... churches

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So what's this new craze that has gripped our politicians? It seems that everyone in a high public post has an urge to build a church. Some even want two. Two years ago, former parliamentary speaker Anna Psarouda-Benaki wanted to build a church in the courtyard of the Hellenic Parliament. Now,...

A cry that will not reach our ears

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July 11, 1995. Bosnian Serb army chief Ratko Mladic enters Srebrenica, a UN-protected Muslim enclave. He turns to the camera of the Serbian television channel and makes a patriotic declaration: «Here we are in Srebrenica on July 11, 1995. On the eve of yet another great Serb holiday. We present...

Squeaky wheel gets the oil

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We often argue that politicians do not address the real issues, that they spend their time sparring and forming alliances, and that, overall, strong stances are lacking from politics. This is true - sometimes. Except that often when politicians do state their positions, no one pays attention,...

Babbling in the dark

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There's a military joke that did the rounds a few years ago. An officer sent a scout to spy on enemy troops. He returned panting and reported, «There are 503 soldiers coming this way.» «How could you possibly count them?» asked the officer. «There were three in front and about 500 behind,» the...

The slippery road to neoconservatism

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When the Greek people gave their mandate for reforms in 2004, the government failed to take action. Now, in 2007, after Greeks voted more conservatively, the government has started visibly regressing. The first sign of this retrogression is the withdrawal of a controversial sixth-grade history...

Was a stay order given?

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Statements made by New Democracy party members on Sunday night show a common interpretation of the election results: Greeks voted for ND because the prime minister is constantly thinking about reforms. He doesn't necessarily go ahead with them, but he's thinking about them. And the new mandate is...

The problem with our schoolbooks

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It may seem strange, but the biggest arguments over books seem to be taking place in the country with the lowest rate of book readership in the Western world. Surely there is no other country where the prime minister speaks out about a chapter in a primary school textbook. Similarly there is no...