Κυριακή, 26 Μαρτίου 2017

SYRIZA’s Black Bible

Κατηγορία Γνώμες
Γράφτηκε από τον  Δημοσιεύθηκε στο Politics Issue 71 The Books' Journal
Prime minister Alexis Tsipras with Panos Kammenos, minister of Defence, in military uniforms. Prime minister Alexis Tsipras with Panos Kammenos, minister of Defence, in military uniforms. Archive of The Books' Journal

A whirl in the “grey zone” of Authoritarianism and Totalitarianism. By Petros Papasarantopoulos

 

The exertion of power by the government of SYRIZA in coalition with the ANEL party in Greece over the last 2 years, offers some rich factual material which can help us draw a wide range of conclusions.

 

It is significantly useful to compare this material with studies and analyses by researchers on the phenomena of populism, authoritarianism and totalitarianism, as they appear in other countries, in order to integrate the Greek experience into a broader, global perspective.

 

Populism in Power

 

In an exceptionally perceptive text, Cas Mudde attempts to make a typology of “the ugly face” of both left-wing and right-wing populism when in power. He actually writes, outlining “the road map” of the populist power:

 

          However, the current situation in Hungary and Venezuela shows us what populism can do when it takes full control of a country. Supported by impressive popular majorities in elections, populist leaders like Viktor Orbán and Hugo Chávez have introduced new constitutions that significantly undermine the checks and balances of liberal democracy. In addition, loyalists have been put at the head of non-majoritarian institutions, such as the courts and other oversight committees, often for periods that extend well beyond the legislative term. Any opposition is frustrated by a combination of legal and extra-legal pressures, from raids by tax agencies to the rejection of renewals of media licences.[1]

 

On the basis of the above mentioned by Mudde, there is a set of measures that are taken by any anti-liberal, i.e., the authoritarian governance, irrespectively of whether it has a left- or right-wing sign. In fact, this set, according to Mudde, comprises what populism in power is:

 

  1. Constitutional Reforms
  2. Government Control of Justice
  3. Guidance of Independent Authorities
  4. Tax raids to political dissidents
  5. Obstacles to the renewal of media licences and guidance of the opposition media.

 

It is worth examining whether, 2 years after the populist SYRIZA-ANEL coalition government came into power, what Mudde describes above applies to Greece as well.

 

Mudde himself, in an interview to the undersigned in November 2015, in response to a question on this matter, said: Compared to Chávez and Orbán, Tsipras is a committed liberal democrat. […] So far, the ugly side of populism has mainly been rhetorical, with accusing political opponents of betrayal and portraying them as ‘enemies’ of Greece.[2]

 

Since then, much water has flowed under the bridge. The SYRIZA-ANEL government has taken a number of decisions, which brought it very close to what Mudde characterizes as the ugly face of populism. Mudde has been a very percipient observer, saying “in short, two years in, SYRIZA has become increasingly unpopular within Greece, and irrelevant outside of it. There are no more sympathetic op-eds in the Guardian, and even Open Democracy has chosen Varoufakis’s DIEM25 over Tsipras’s SYRIZA. Economically Greece is still threatened by Grexit, but is operating in a radically different European context, in which left-wing parties are even weaker than two years ago, and Brexit and refugees have pushed austerity politics to the margins of the political debate. To cover its incompetence, SYRIZA has increased its populist attacks, while breaking election promise after election promise. Whether that will be enough to survive a third year, seems highly unlikely.”[3]

 

Let us look at SYRIZA’s decisions during its two years in government analytically.

 

Constitutional Reforms

 

The SYRIZA-ANEL government announced its decision for constitutional reforms in July 2016. In his statements, Alexis Tsipras, using constantly his notoriously divisive populist rhetoric, justified this decision by saying: “the political system bears huge responsibilities for the financial and moral bankruptcy of the country. The only way to emerge from the crisis once and for all is to finish with the old system. To get rid of all these things that led us to this point.[4]

 

This proposal aims at the “institutional strengthening of direct democracy” and provides, among other things, the following:

 

-       The obligation to ratify any treaty which transfers sovereign state powers to others, through a binding referendum;

 

-       The possibility to conduct a referendum upon public petition with a minimum of 500,000 signatures for national matters, and one million signatures for an existing law –with the exception of legislation on fiscal matters–, as well as for any other legislative initiative by the citizens themselves.[5]

 

At the beginning of October 2016 the composition of the organizational committee that would be in charge of the implementation of this procedure, was announced. “Direct democratic” discussions for the constitutional reform have been planned to take place in every municipality of the country. Civil society groups, individuals, scientific and social groups and organizations are expected to take part in them, while at the same time an e-forum will be available at a special website.

 

However, this extra-institutional political participation is not pursuant to the Greek Constitution, which strictly foresees that constitutional reform procedures are conducted by the Parliament and not by the government. Evangelos Venizelos specifically commented: “these are dangerous and ruthless games against the institutions, which dilute the core democratic values,”[6]while strong disagreement was also expressed inside the SYRIZA party by the “left-wing” group of the “53+”.[7]

 

At the same time, the composition of the Committee caused strong reactions as well, due to Petros Pararas’ participation in it, a retired judge and University Professor, who had previously participated in a similar committee during the military junta of 1967-1974. Those reactions led to Petros Pararas’ resignation. A variety of reactions were also caused because the actor and SYRIZA’s supporter, Giorgos Kimoulis, who had no particular knowledge on the subject of the Committee, was appointed as a member, while its President, Professor Michalis Spourdalakis, Dean of the School of Economics and Political Sciences of the University of Athens and SYRIZA’s supporter too, had allowed Dimitris Koufodinas, a leading member of the terrorist group “17 November”, convicted and imprisoned for a series of killings, to present his book in the amphitheater of the University.[8]

 

Government Control of Justice

 

In this area, the interventions of the SYRIZA-ANEL government have been like a snowball effect. It would not be an overstatement to say that the ulterior motive of the government is to abolish the separation of powers.[9]

 

Alexis Tsipras’ response to the possibility that the State Council’s ruling on media licences might not be consistent with the government’s will on that matter, is indicative of the government’s way of thinking; he said: Justice will make its decision, but I doubt there is any chance that the Council of State will annul the competition.[10]

 

The attempts to control Justice started by appointing people favorably inclined towards the government as presidents of the supreme courts of the country.

 

Primarily, the government appointed Mrs. Vasiliki Thanou as the President of the Supreme Court of Greece (Areios Pagos), a unionist and an elected President of the Association of Judges and Prosecutors (ENDE), by circumventing established procedures. Mrs. Thanou has excelled at anti-memorandum statements; she had also sent a letter to Jean-Claude Juncker asking him to intervene in the EU bodies in favor of the SYRIZA-ANEL agenda. She is also the one who has characterized Samaras’ government “an absolutist state government”, while she led the judges’ strike, claiming financial benefits for them, in violation of the Constitution.[11]

 

The motive behind her selection at midnight, on June 29, was more than obvious, as on August 27, 2015, she was appointed as the caretaker Prime Minister in the government which ran the elections in September 2015. That became possible because she was the only president of a Supreme Court at that time, given that the two vacancies for the positions of the presidents of the Council of State and the Court of Audit were, deliberately, not filled yet.

 

Moreover, the government selected Nikolaos Sakellariou for the Presidency of the Council of State (CoS) on October 22, 2015. Mr. Sakellariou was known for his anti-memorandum votes during critical cases in which he participated. He dissented in the first Plenary Session of the Council of State, claiming that the 1st Memorandum was unconstitutional along with the initial regulatory laws (3845/10) and the cuts that followed. He took part in the Plenary Session, during which the Council of State ruled that the latest pension cuts (laws 4051 and 4093/12) were unconstitutional, while he was a dissenting voice, arguing that former pension and bonus cuts were unconstitutional, raising the question of the “violation of adequate living standards”. Consistent with his anti-memorandum views, he ruled (by expressing a dissenting opinion) that the so-called “PPC hike” for properties and the PSI were also unconstitutional regulations, while he chaired the Plenary Session that rejected the appeals against the referendum.[12]

 

Having selected as Presidents for the two supreme courts of the country, personalities with the above profiles, the government continues using anti-democratic practices, in order to gag the opposition or the so-called “enemies”.

 

On February 1, 2016, Mrs. Vasiliki Thanou pressed charges against the Professor of Constitutional Law, Stavros Tsakyrakis, because of a judgmental comment he had made in his personal website.[13]

 

In the meantime, she ordered disciplinary procedures against high members of the Judiciary, in particular, against Mrs. Georgia Tsatsani, District Attorney at the Public Prosecutor’s Office, who denounced government interventions in Justice by the Deputy Minister of Justice, Dimitris Papagelopoulos.[14]

 

Equally remarkable is the disciplinary investigation and punishment ordered against Isidoros Dogiakos, the Head of the Prosecuting Department. Mr. Dogiakos was accused of having convened the Plenary Session of the Public Prosecutor’s Office to discuss: “Extra-institutional interventions of the President of the Supreme Court in the independent self-governed Public Prosecutor’s Office of Athens Court of First Instance.”[15]

 

In the beginning, a written reprimand was imposed upon Dogiakos but later, after an appeal by the Minister of Justice, Nikos Paraskevopoulos, he had been deprived of his salary for 40 days. Nevertheless, Dogiakos stood again as a candidate for the position of the Head of the Prosecuting Department and he was re-elected, (his colleagues voted for him again as a gesture against the government’s interventions), but, in the end, he was removed from his post. It is surely no coincidence that the Golden Dawn party triumphed over these prosecutions against Dogiakos, officially stating “Dogiakos is over.”[16]

 

At the same time, the Deputy Attorney General of the Supreme Court, Xeni Dimitriou, ordered disciplinary proceedings against: Isidoros Dogiakos, the Head of the Prosecuting Department, Georgios Gerakis, District Attorney at the Public Prosecutor’s Office in Athens, and Athina Theodoropoulou, also District Attorney at the Public Prosecutor’s Office in Athens, for not translating into two languages (German and French) the decision for the Siemens’ case, which resulted in the indefinite postponement of the trial.

 

The opposition talks about a real pogrom against judges “who failed to comply with the recommendations”.

 

The case of the former chief of the Hellenic Statistical Authority, Andreas Georgiou, who is to face trial on criminal charges of undermining the national interest, is also remarkable, despite the fact that the case had been filed, having no legal basis. Still the decision to prosecute Mr. Georgiou has sparked outrage in the European Commission and led to the Government’s verbal retreat. However, the prosecution against Georgiou continued.[17] Having being charged with neglect of duty, he was finally found innocent, on December 6, 2016, in the Three-Membered Magistrate Court of Athens.[18]

Equally tense is the situation at the Council of State. On October 1, 2016, the President of the CoS suspended the Plenary Session (he actually said that he cancels it), which was about to discuss the tv-licences issue “due to some efforts to create a certain climate”; a completely incomprehensible statement that caused the resignation of two Vice-Presidents of the Council of State from the Union of Judges and Prosecutors.[19] The Plenary Session was reconvened on October 12, 2016, when, on that same date, as if by chance, the government announced the approval of a 25% tax return to all members of the judiciary for their income of the last 5 years.[20]

On October 6, 2016, after a meeting between Alexis Tsipras (during which the prime minister announced salary increases for the high-ranking members of the Judiciary) and the Presidents of the Supreme Courts, the President of the Council of State declared: “our duty as judges is to feel the pulse of the Greek society”. It is a statement that constitutes a fundamental denial of the Rule of Law and Liberal Democracy, both of which oblige judges to act and rule only according to the Constitution and the laws. “The pulse of the Greek society” as a criterion for judicial decisions, along with the suspension of sessions due to efforts to create a certain climate”, constitutes anti-democratic rhetoric, a populist fraud.[21]

 

The President of the Supreme Court Mrs. Thanou created quite a stir when she said that during her meeting with the prime minister, she discussed the possibility to extend the age limit of service of the active judges, a proposal that is also a constitutional deviation, given that the Constitution expressly foresees the age of 67 as the age of retirement for all judges.[22] Mrs. Thanou continued her efforts to make her views accepted by other judges, but she was totally defeated, on February 7, 2017, when both the Plenary Session of Aeropagites and the Public Prosecutors of the Supreme Court, voted against any extension of the age limit by the rationale that it would contradict the Constitution. However, she insisted that such an extension is definitely needed.[23]

 

Despite all these extra-institutional interventions, the government suffered a defeat by the decision of the Plenary Session of the Council of State to uphold the appeals regarding the tv licences auction. Yet, the Plenary Session agreed to proceed and discuss the appeals in depth instead of rejecting them, concluding that the Body does not bring accountability on this matter.[24]

 

It is significant that, after this decision by the CoS, a series of inflammatory statements followed by the prime minister and government officials. Alexis Tsipras, using a kind of rhetoric sounding vividly like Hugo Chávez, denounced that a “specific coup” is in progress[25]; the minister of State Nikos Pappas said that if the CoS decided in favor of the unconstitutionality of his Act, “this would be an unpleasant development for the function of Democracy”[26]; and the Secretary General of Information and Communication, Lefteris Kretsos, claimed: “Judicial decisions for the tv-licence auction are binding but not respectable.”[27]

 

Furthermore, one of the vice-presidents of the CoS had been targeted because he openly expressed his opinion that the Act, introduced by Nikos Pappas, was unconstitutional[28]. Media in favor of the government, have brought into view his personal emails, while the newspaper Avgi, SYRIZA’s partisan newspaper, disclosed his name, which sparked outrage not only among the opposition parties[29] but also in the mass media and among former supporters of the government[30].

 

The minister of Justice, Nikos Paraskevopoulos, taking an unprecedented decision, ordered a preliminary investigation and disciplinary proceedings against the Vice-President of the Council of State. However, only after the reactions did he ask for an investigation to examine if criminal offences, such as a personal data breach, violation of privacy, receiving crime-related goods, etc. have been committed. [31]

 

Paraskevopoulos, during his speech in the Parliament, openly admitted: “this document is obviously a ‘product’ of interception, i.e., illegally possessed evidence”, and continued to say that he had already known about it since 2015, thus confessing the underground connections between parastatal groups and the government. Despite that, he decided to carry out the order, while the Plenary Session of the CoS on the tv licences auction was still in progress.[32]

 

All these sparked outrage in the Greek Association of Judges and Public Prosecutors and in the Greek Association of Administrative Judges. Here is their statement:

 

            We, the judges of this country, observe with repugnance and extreme concern the degradation of public morals. Through publications, which are of no public interest whatsoever, or do not provide any information to the public or serve the truth, the personal data of a man, of a recognized and esteemed judge, is disclosed and his life is compromised and distorted, his privacy is breached and offered as prey to voracious tabloids as well as part of the public opinion, influenced by it, which is an extremely sick phenomenon, a reminiscent of the methods used by fascist regimes.

 

In an attempt to blackmail the Supreme Court, where highly important cases are pending, the most common tools in the quiver of corruption (yellow press, economic or other kind of interests) are being used, in order to achieve unlawful pursuits.

 

Therefore, the immediate response of the state and mainly of Justice to the disclosure of the judge’s who happens, incidentally, to participate in the Plenary Session on the constitutionality of the tv licences act, personal life, is more urgent and necessary than ever before.[33]

 

Journalist Ioanna Mandrou, has commented on the present situation in the field of Justice: “it is more than clear, that Justice known till recently as a privileged area for the government to exert authority, in the sense that the justice system has always been an ally to the government’s strategy to combat corruption and inter-related interests, has now become a trouble field for the Maximos Mansion.”[34]

 

The government suffered still another major political defeat, when the CoS Plenary Session ruled, just before midnight, on October 26, 2016, that the tv licence auction Act introduced by Nikos Pappas was on the whole unconstitutional and therefore nullified.

 

The government reactions to that were unprecedented. In an unacceptable, for democratic ethics, announcement, the PM’s Press Office suggested that the judges constitute a “parastate”, stating: “this country is governed neither by corruption nor by the deep parastate. It is governed by the democratically elected governments according to the will of the Greek people.”[35]

 

Similarly, in a state of delirium, government spokeswoman Olga Gerovasili, attacked the Council of State claiming that the ruling deprives the hospitals of extra personnel and the nursery schools of resources.[36] She also mentioned that the CoS is the same court that ruled in the past that the 1st Memorandum of Understanding along with the PSI regulations were constitutional. Obviously it must have slipped her mind that Tsipras’ government has also signed the 3rd Memorandum of Understanding, while the same government had previously defended the PSI regulations when bondholders had filed an appeal against the PSI ruling.[37]

 

A barrage of political attacks followed against Justice by government officials and loyalists. The SYRIZA partisan paper, Avgi, featured the headline “Fortunately, judges don’t rule”, mentioning that “the unprecedented decision by the CoS restores the unlawful status in the media landscape”.[38]

 

Deputy Minister of Health, Pavlos Polakis, talked about a “judicial coup”, stating in a heroic tone:  “we have a war and the Left knows how to fight”[39]. At the same time, the Secretary General of Information and Communication, Lefteris Kretsos, stated that the CoS ruling is a “rififi”[40] and continued: “maybe for some judges money has never been an issue, but this could possibly seem like hubris and arrogance to a 30% of the citizens of this country, living in poor conditions, economically suffocated””[41].

 

The most inflammatory statement was made by the Deputy Secretary of the ANEL party, Athanasios Beltsos, who prompted Alexis Tsipras and Panos Kammenos to “thrash justice”. His statement obliged Panos Kammenos to remove him from his post.[42]

 

It seems that this hostility towards Justice will continue for quite some time, generating risks for the fragile Greek Democracy. This deep concern was reflected into statements from the Unions of Judges, the Opposition parties, the mass media and intellectuals[43]. Furthermore, Evangelos Venizelos, in a dramatic statement, commented: “the statement read in a rebellious tone by the spokeswoman, constitutes an official announcement of the abolition of the Constitution”[44].

 

It is also indicative that many European press media commented strongly on this ongoing war between the government and Justice, as for example the German centre-left paper, Süddeutsche Zeitung: “it is impressive how flagrantly the government attacks the CoS: pretending that the CoS acts against the interests of the people.” [45]

 

In a desperate effort to regain initiative, Alexis Tsipras proposed, on October 29, 2016, Vyron Polydoras, a veteran politician from the New Democracy party, as the new Head of the Greek National Council for Radio and Television. Polydoras has been known for his extreme positions and ideas (e.g., the collaboration between the ND and the Golden Dawn party). He was suspended from the ND party in 2013, because he voted against the bill on real estate taxation, presenting populist arguments, stating: “I will not pay you, Sirs, members of the Troika, because my child will die and so will the people.”

 

He attempted a political comeback by taking part in the European elections in 2014 but he received just 1.04%. Government’s proposal of V. Polydoras as the head of the Greek National Council for Radio and Television (NCRTV), known for his eccentric ideas, caused great hilarity, and even SYRIZA MPs reacted. The candidature was rejected at once by the Opposition parties, while many analysts said that the proposed candidature (on behalf of the government) is indicative of SYRIZA’s contemptuous and utilitarian approach towards institutions. Finally the government had no other choice but to accept Athanasios Koutroumanos, an experienced judge, as the head of the Greek National Council for Radio and Television, and as members people that can guarantee transparency and fairness.[46]

 

It seems logical to question how a radical left-wing party has managed to exert great power over Justice, where rather conservative beliefs prevail. The answer is the allies. Apart from the valuable coalition with the ANEL Party, there is also a wing in the ND Party, favorably inclined to SYRIZA, the so-called “Karamanlis’ loyalists”, who are represented in the government by the Deputy Minister of Justice, Dimitris Papagelopoulos. The President of Greece, Prokopis Pavlopoulos also belongs to this particular wing, who, on every occasion, systematically denounces neoliberalism and austerity.[47]

 

As Giannis Voulgaris has stated “there have been information in the press for some time now about an axis of three, Pavlopoulos-Papagelopoulos-Thanou, supported by the Karamanlis’ loyalists group from the ND Party, acting in favor of SYRIZA behind the scenes.[48] The ‘deafening silence’ of Mr. Karamanlis encouraged the scenarios pretty well. In other words, it seemed that a ‘right’ centre is in charge, whereas the left-wing SYRIZA, a complete ignorant of the state mechanisms, has actually given ground to the ‘right centre’ to fully occupy the high-ranking positions in Justice. However, the whole thing proved to be more complex and the left-right osmosis more advanced.”[49] 

 

Independent Authorities

 

In Greece, Independent Authorities were constitutionally consolidated after the Constitutional Reform in 2001[50]. The constitution and function of these authorities is one of the major achievements of Liberal Democracies. They are institutional bodies that function as “Independent Regulatory Agencies” in the U.S.A., as “AutoritésAdministrativesIndépendantes” in France, as QUANGOS (QuasiAutonomousNon-GovernmentalOrganizations) in Britain. Their mission is to protect what we call “third generation rights”. They function independently from the government; they are not subject to government control and maintain a regulatory role on state interventions in society. They function as an “institutional counterbalance”, necessary in democracies, in order to prevent authoritarianism and the over-centralisation of political powers in a government.

 

Today in Greece, there are seventeen independent authorities[51], five of which are constitutionally consolidated. These are: the Greek National Council for Radio and Television, the Greek Ombudsman, the Supreme Council for the Civil Personnel Selection, the Hellenic Authority for Communication Security and Privacy and the Hellenic Data Protection Authority.

 

It is no coincidence that mainly social democratic governments in most European countries take the credit for the constitutional consolidation of independent authorities, despite the reaction of conservative political parties that would prefer a more “narrow” and centralized model of government.[52] It seems that in Greece, the populist, left-right government coalition of SYRIZA and ANEL prefer the centralization of political powers and surveillance, as well as the devaluation of the role of Independent Authorities.

 

Taking the above into consideration, it is obvious that the existence and function of Independent Authorities cannot be one of the political options of the radical left-wing party whatsoever. Before the January 2015 elections, Alexis Tsipras, prime minister-to-be then, had announced in his campaign that all the independent authorities would be regulated and supervised directly by the prime minister.[53] The opposition of the SYRIZA party to the independent authorities is based on their neoliberal characteristics and mechanisms. This hostility is outlined in a text co-signed by the Deputy Minister of Interior at the SYRIZA-ANEL government, Christoforos Vernardakis: the theoretical and therefore political problem which has arisen in the Left party is that ‘by being in power’, you actually undertake the responsibility to supervise thecoordination and function of a ‘locked’ neoliberal structure, which has formed a suffocating model of public administration (multi-fragmentation of administrative responsibilities, Independent Authorities, administrative standards, etc.).”[54]

 

This is exactly the reason why “‘power-controlling institutions’, unlike the independent authorities, democratically legitimate institutions, ensuring accountability, should be established.”[55]

 

In his interview, Vernardakis said: “neoliberalism managed to deprive Public Administration of some of its powers. While the state was in charge of social policies or incorporated the interests of lower classes, neoliberalism was attempting to fragment or even disdain Public Administration by shaping a self-contained, state-government frame, through the institutionalization of independent authorities.”[56]

 

The Opposition parties have accused the SYRIZA-ANEL government of being “allergic” to independent authorities several times, thus pursuing in every single way to control them, or paralyze them if controlling them cannot be achieved.[57]

 

The major manifestation of this allergy, which has been in the spotlight during the last few months, is the ousting of jurisdiction of the Greek National Council for Radio and Television on the media licences and its transfer to the Minister of State, Nikos Pappas, despite the fact that the Greek Constitution strictly foresees that the NCRTV is empowered to grant media licences, while the Council also supervises and regulates the radio/television market.

 

Moreover, as the Opposition has denounced, other Independent Authorities face government interventions as well. For instance, responsibilities from the Hellenic Telecommunications and Post Commission are transferred to the Ministry of Infrastructure, Transport and Networks. An attempt is also being made to change the age limit for retirement of the members of the Supreme Council for the Civil Personnel Selection in order to “terminate” some of its members’ career earlier, as they are not likeable to the government. In other authorities, like the Hellenic Competition Commission, certain amendments have been enacted defining an incompatibility in public service concerning the wives of the PMs and other marriage related relatives; consequently any failure to comply with the Ministerial decision or decree leads to a disciplinary offence.

 

Quite often certain vacancies are created and posted exclusively to government loyalists, while government interventions have been mentioned in the Directorate General of the Hellenic Competition Commission by shortening the legislative term (from four to three years) of the current President and Heads of the Departments, in order to control the administrative hierarchy.[58] An indicative case is the dismissal of Mrs. Aikaterini Savvaidou, Head of the General Secretariat for Public Revenue.[59]

 

It is not an overstatement to say that the top priority of the SYRIZA-ANEL government is the total control or even the abolition of the independent authorities, so that they can seize power, according to the Leninist theory on dual power, which says that it is not enough just to come into power, it is more important to seize power.[60] The government is already considering changing the institutional framework concerning Independent Authorities, having formed a committee for that matter.[61]

 

Against this background, government officials do not hesitate to attack institutions that fall directly under the Eurosystem, therefore cannot be controlled by the government, such as the Hellenic Statistical Authority and the Bank of Greece. The prosecution of the former chief of the Hellenic Statistical Authority, Andreas Georgiou, that sparked off outrage in the European Commission, together with the constant targeting of the Governor of the Bank of Greece, Yannis Stournaras, accusing him of undermining the government, show how the SYRIZA-ANEL government attempts to take full control of the independent authorities and, at the same time, its intention to exterminate anyone who stands in the opposite side.[62]

 

Tax raids to political dissidents

 

The following incident could be a movie scene. In the morning of September 15, 2016, only the cleaning lady had arrived at the Mindwork Business Solutions offices, located in Kifisia (Athens). Suddenly, a District Attorney appeared, accompanied by police officers, while the whole area was overrun with tv reporters broadcasting live, interrupting the ordinary tv programme again and again with breaking news. What exactly happened?

 

Mindwork Business Solutions belongs to Lina Nikolopoulou, Yannis Stournaras’, the Governor of the Central Bank of Greece, wife. Without any charges having being pressed, the corruption prosecutors had gathered evidence based on a former investigation regarding the mismanagement of advertising funding of the Hellenic Center for Disease Control and Prevention (KEELPNO), received by Lina Nikolopoulou’s firm.[63]

 

According to the Financial Times, some hours before “Mr Stournaras has clashed frequently over issues of bank governance with the leftwing Syriza-led government of Alexis Tsipras, the prime minister. Hours before the raid on Mindwork, the central bank rejected the appointment of a new chairman and chief executive at Attica Bank, a struggling small lender with close ties to the ruling party”. Given that Mr. Stournaras had repeatedly conflicted with the Tsipras’ government, the Financial Times pointed out: “To many in Athens, the raid on Mindwork illustrated how Syriza tries to intimidate its political foes, including making use of judicial officials sympathetic to the party.”[64]

 

The same approach was also employed in the case of Yannis Alafouzos, owner of the Sky tv-radio, media and the newspaper Kathimerini, favorably inclined to the conservative party. Since the news and everyday reports of current affairs presented by the Alafouzos’ Media Group is not likeable to the government, just some time ago, on the pretext of “tax evasion”, the Tax Control Center for Big Wealth ordered the freezing of his assets. This decision, which subverts the presumption of innocence, a principal applicable to all liberal democracies, prompted a strong reaction on the part of Mr. Alafouzos. In his statement he said: “I have repeatedly stated that all my income comes from shipping activities abroad […]. However the timing of this case brought into light, on the eve of the 15th August Summer Holiday, and obviously just before the private TV licence tender, causes suspicions and therefore I leave it to each citizen’s judgement.”[65]

 

Moreover, another indicative example is the case of the businessman and owner of the Alpha Media Group, Dimitris Kontominas. In fact, Alpha tv channel was in favor of the SYRIZA Party in the past, supporting its election campaign, and continued to do so after the elections as well. This particular tv channel took part in the tv licence tender and despite the fact that they submitted a quite high bid, they did not receive a tv licence to broadcast, running the risk of being gradually pulled off the air and shut down. After that, the Alpha Media Group started making severe accusations against the SYRIZA-ANEL government. Some days later, since the tv channel changed sides, charges were pressed against its owner for tax evasion and serious criminal offences.[66]

 

Obstacles in the media licensing process - guidance of the opposition media

 

The government policy on this issue has overstepped its bounds and it is not a figure of speech to say that the way the government acted violates the constitutional principles flagrantly.[67]

 

At first, it was the “University Institute of Florence” study claiming that only four national tv broadcast licences are available in Greece. Despite the reactions of many experts[68], the government opened a call for tenders about tv licences, based on the opinion of the Institute of Florence. According to the tender process, all the potential bidders were strictly isolated in a building, without access to the outside world, under CCTV surveillance for three days. They submitted their bids calculated by a rather complex bidding system.

 

To make this happen, the government removed this responsibility from the NCRTV, granted to it by the Constitution, and transferred it to the Minister of State, Nikos Pappas.[69] Once more, responsibilities constitutionally established as belonging to an independent authority, had been transferred to the central government on the pretext of the “Doctrine of necessity”.

 

The tender winners in this controversial process, which was cancelled in the end, were the following businessmen: Alafouzos, Marinakis, Kalogritsas and Kyriakou. Alafouzos and Kyriakou already possess tv channels, while the other two, SYRIZA loyalists, are not in the media business and therefore, they have to start one from scratch or contract with other tv channel owners in the current media market. Soon enough, information about the assets of Kalogritsas, whose father is a public works contractor, came to light. Kalogritsas’ son is Minister Spirtzis’ (Minister of Infrastructure, Transport and Networks) best man, while his father, Mr. Kalogritsas, is Panos Kammenos’ the President of the ANEL Party, best man,. However, Kalogritsas could not pay the first tranche of the fee for the licence, thus paving the way for his disqualification. He was replaced by a runner-up in the competition, Ivan Savvidis, Greek-Russian businessman, who maintains privileged relations with Vladimir Putin, and had made some quite nationalistic statements in the past.[70]

 

Alexis Tsipras himself has talked many times about this tv licence tender process, boasting in a resentful tone, saying: “I was really pleased because these media tycoons, got their little bags and they went to the General Secretariat of Information building, where they were isolated in little rooms, without access to the outside world for three entire days, and no one came out, because it is the law! This is the message. Here, the law is respected. Pimping is over”[71].

 

Despite the prime minister’s joy, the whole process caused successive appeals to the court, and as a result, the Act introduced by Pappas, was ruled on the whole as unconstitutional by the Council of State, as we have already mentioned.[72]

 

At the same time, tv channels that were not awarded a licence, faced immediate shutting down, making thousands of people redundant. This threat became reality after the amendment presented by Nikos Pappas before the Parliament, on October 14, 2016, defining that tv channels not awarded a licence are obliged to close down within five days. The government had already made provision for prison expenses, and other penalties, in case tv owners would not comply with the ministerial decision and continue broadcasting.[73] The amendment caused a huge outcry and it was withdrawn after a few hours.

 

It is remarkable that the Mega channel, country’s top ratings channel, was excluded from the tv licence tender. The shareholders, who are also owners of print media, did not manage to reach a mutually agreed decision to increase the authorized share capital. According to analysts[74], the main shareholder, Fotis Bobolas, a public works contractor and owner of the opposition paper Ethnos, refused to take part in the increase of share capital, leading the procedure to a dead end. It is claimed that Fotis Bobolas stepped back after having agreed with the government and in return his company would continue to get financing from public works.[75]

 

It is undeniable that the newspaper Ethnos has taken a pro-government turn since then, and as a result, many times its headlines are similar to the ones featuring in Avgi, the SYRIZA partisan newspaper.

 

What happened with the tv licence process is an example of the general attitude of the SYRIZA–ANEL government towards the opposition media. A major characteristic is the extreme sensitivity to any kind of criticism.[76]

 

Needless to say, government officials and the prime minister himself made embarrassing statements about the media status and the recent developments. The prime minister talked about “a post-modern kind of media coup, based on lies, slander and propaganda”[77], while other ministers, like the Deputy Minister of Health, Pavlos Polakis, used the word “cesspool” (tv channels: cesspool of corruption)[78]. In a similar vein, government spokeswoman, Olga Gerovasili, denounced the tv media, because they did not interrupt the ordinary tv programme, in order to broadcast the statements of South European country leaders live, after a rather uninteresting meeting held in Athens.[79]

 

Apart from verbal attacks, the minister of Defense and President of the ANEL party, Panos Kammenos, pressed charges against the columnist and cartoonist, Andreas Petroulakis, for slander, requesting one million euros.[80] Similarly, the parliamentarian representative of SYRIZA, Alexandros Triantafyllidis, requested hundreds of thousands of euros from journalists and the media as compensation for defamation damages.[81] 

 

Considering all the above, it is crystal clear that the government is in war with the majority of the mass media that stand in the opposite side. In this context, the government uses internet trolls, coming from the SYRIZA payroll, in order to attack anyone who criticizes them.[82] As Thodoris Georgakopoulos points out: if you make the horrible mistake to take part in political debates in the Greek Twitter, following popular hashtags (many of which are impressively coordinated and strategically put) and well-known loyalists of the government, as well as their followers, you will easily draw the conclusion that the same strategy is followed in the social media too, without even the need to know their motivation, their organization, or who pays them (probably you).[83]

 

This Orwellian atmosphere of the Greek politics in social media is described by Laurie Keza who points out: “the government spokeswoman, Olga Gerovasili, talked openly about hiring a specific person, who made a glorious career out of twitting anarchistic quips. The Prime Minister’s Office hired this person, who actually insulted and cursed at people expressing a different opinion, became obsessed with his enemies, bullied everyone who dared criticize the government.”[84] This information was disclosed after the tragic death of this person in a car accident.

 

Government’s actions towards the opposition media have culminated in its reactions on the problems of Lambrakis Press Group (DOL), which used to publish the emblematic newspapers, Ta Nea and To Vima.[85] Taking advantage of DOL’s difficulties to adapt to the new digital era, the government stopped its loans from state-controlled banks.[86] In a highly controversial move, DOL’s chairman, Stavros Psycharis, invited Vassilis Moulopoulos, the head of the SYRIZA-affiliated Avgi newspaper and former party MP, to take the management of the bankrupt media group DOL. Although Moulopoulos used to work for the organization as an executive director, this attempt failed due to some of the most well-known journalists’ strong reaction to such a possibility.[87]

 

As a result, the circulation of both To Vima and Ta Nea stopped, on February 5 and February 8, 2017, respectively.[88] What is remarkable is that in the last issue of Ta Nea, there was no advertisement whatsoever. Its editor Panagiotis Lampsias reported, in a radio interview, that some businesses that wanted to be advertised in the newspaper were threatened by people that work for the government that if they did so, they would be visited by Greek Financial Crime Unit (SDOE).

 

Thus, the landscape in the opposition media in Greece in 2017 seemed to become a nightmare as To Vima and Ta Nea were not to be published any more[89], while To Ethnos supports the government. The only opposition newspaper that has remained is Kathimerini. As far as the tv channels are concerned, MEGA does not have any kind of news programme any more, while the other channels let government members appear more and more often, in an attempt to avoid any revengeful behaviour on the part of the government towards those who do not agree with its practices.

 

However, things changed when, despite Alexis Tsipras’ statement that “there is a decision made by Justice” about DOL “which is irreversible”[90], a First Instance Court in Athens allowed, on February 13, 2017, one of the organization’s bank accounts in Alpha Bank, to remain active so that the work at its newspapers can continue.[91] After all, it seems that in Greece there is still a system of checks and balances, which prevents the exercise of arbitrary political power.

 

SYRIZA and social democracy

 

It is difficult to contradict what has been presented so far. The overall picture is devastating. It is literally true that this is a “Black Bible”. It is obvious that the SYRIZA government gives an excellent performance at all five levels mentioned by Mudde, when he sets the frame, describing the ugly face of the left-wing and right-wing populism when in power. There is no need to envy the archetypal regimes of Orbán and Maduro. In fact, in some cases, related to Justice and the Media, the SYRIZA government does its best to form an authoritarian government competing with the aforementioned regimes if not actually surpassing them.

 

For this reason, the attitude of some thinkers and political analysts who express the opinion that SYRIZA, free from its extreme left-wing, is turning to a moderate political party, getting closer to the European social democracy, is rather challenging.

 

This belief is expressed by Nikos Mouzelis, saying: “this is all Cassandra’s fantasy that Tsipras is about to form an authoritarian regime […]. I believe that SYRIZA, despite its mistakes, is the only political power which, at this juncture, can complete this difficult task since the prime minister decided to follow the European route”.[92]

 

Similar beliefs have been expressed by some thinkers (Konstantinos Tsoukalas, Antonis Liakos) who, in the past, were supporters of the PASOK’s modernizing paradigm and his leader Kostas Simitis. Some other members of the Democratic Left, headed by Fotis Kouvelis, decided to cooperate with the SYRIZA party[93], from which they had departed in 2010.[94]

 

It is important to highlight that such an approach is a political failure. The belief that a populist party, like SYRIZA, formed by these specific people, i.e., supporters and followers of the Leninist theory, (more on that below), could embrace the European social democratic principles is Contradictio in terminis, contradictory per se. It is like believing that there is a square circle. The reason is simple: there is no compatibility between the political core of social democracy and populism. The difference of these two ideological approaches boils down to the gap between pluralistic ideologies that social democracy stands for and monistic theories employed by populism. Even when social democratic parties use a kind of soft populism, it is by far different from the archetypal picture of the, de facto, populism represented by SYRIZA in power. As Giorgos Siakantaris points out in his rather (self-)critical article, “a holistic party can pretend to be a social democratic one and some people (inside or outside the party) can also pretend that they believe it. But by no means can a holistic party become a social democratic one. It is more likely to turn into a totalitarian party. The abolition of the separation of powers (holism-despotism) can be the first step towards the abolition of political and ideological pluralism (totalitarianism)”.[95]

 

In political terms, social democracy, despite its problems and weaknesses, aims at consensus (without sometimes excluding, in certain cases, conflicts as well). Populists aim at a constant split of society, the invention of enemies.[96] This is a fundamental difference. Another even more significant political difference is that between the reformative projects adapted by social democratic parties and what we call dangerous populism, the radical political acrobatics we daily experience here in Greece, all of which we tried to include into this text.

 

It is also quite remarkable that many European social democratic parties support SYRIZA and invite its leader, Alexis Tsipras, as an attendee, in the meetings of the Party of European Socialists, while, at the same time, many leaders of European social democratic parties talk positively about SYRIZA and Tsipras.[97] However, this can be easily explained in terms of political tactics and correctness; it is better to integrate a radical regime rather than leave it at the opposite side. In addition, because France, which has always had an inclination to the left, cannot actually forward leftist reformations, Hollande is supporting Tsipras, even by just being friendly, in an effort to make his own profile more likeable to the Left; in vain though, as reported in the polls for the Presidential elections in France.[98] 

 

Taking all the above into consideration, including the fact that a big part of the European Left feels a kind of orientalist nostalgia, and it has always been seeking for a revolutionary icon, outside its territory, like Chávez in the past, and Tsipras[99] recently, we can clearly understand why a frame of tolerance has been built around the SYRIZA party and its leader, despite the fact that there is no compatibility between the social democratic political principles and SYRIZA as a whole.

 

Unfortunately, this has been a structural problem of the European social democracy during the last years. The European Left avoids every ideological and political conflict, thus quitting the battle for ideology in the name of a wrongly perceived political realism, paving the way for populist-radical parties to gain political ground.

 

It is exactly the same mistake that European conservatives make with Victor Orbán in Hungary.[100] They accept his presence in the European People’s Party in the European Parliament responding with double talk to his political tactics which have transformed Hungary into an archetypal populist authoritarian state.

 

SYRIZA plays on this tolerance displayed by the European social democrats and European institutions. Demonstrating a moderate profile, SYRIZA consents to new measures, which then it does not implement. Moreover, SYRIZA denounces the measures to the public, claiming that this was not the government’s choice, however, there was no other alternative but to give in. Parallel to that, it builds its authoritarian tactics inside the country, reminiscent of Leninist reactions to the Brest-Litovsk Treaty[101]: we cede some space, to gain time and establish ourselves.

 

What kind of party is SYRIZA?

 

Populism, Authoritarianism and Totalitarianism

 

We should not consider the effort to define SYRIZA as a kind of theoretical quibbling. On the contrary, it is a top political priority, in order to understand exactly what SYRIZA stands for, so that politicians and Institutions can take the appropriate decisions on how to respond to it.

 

The following thoughts can be perceived as introductory remarks to a theoretical discussion, which is necessary to take place in Greece. Inevitably, these remarks are introduced briefly here, but they need further analyses, which, we believe, we will be able to provide in the very near future.

 

Let us begin with the concept of populism. According to the prevailing view in literature, “Populism is a thin-centered ideology”[102] that considers society to be ultimately separated into two homogeneous and antagonistic camps, “the pure people” versus “the corrupted elite,” and which argues that politics should be an expression of the volonté générale (general will) of the people”.[103] There is no doubt that SYRIZA fits in exactly to this definition. Moreover, in SYRIZA’s case, there is also the element of nationalism; therefore it constitutes the new national-populism paradigm[104] as Andreas Pantazopoulos has also aptly put it.[105]

 

Very few analysts disagree with SYRIZA’s populist core. Some claim that this leads to “populist democracy”[106], a superior type of democracy, but in the light of current events, hardly would they continue to support that the SYRIZA-ANEL government has upgraded the level of democracy in Greece. Populism is the enemy of liberal democracy. It detests its pluralism and, as a result, disagrees with everything that does not agree with it. It is an ideology that generates genuine political authoritarianism, as it is precisely manifested in Greece by the SYRIZA-ANEL government.

 

What is authoritarianism? Heywood defines authoritarianism as following: “authoritarianism is concerned with the repression of opposition and political liberty, rather than the more radical goal of obliterating the distinction between the state and civil society”.[107]

 

Consequently, SYRIZA demonstrates not only populist and national-populist characteristics but also authoritarian aspects when exercising authority[108], in clear contradiction with the minimum requirements of a liberal democracy.[109]

 

In addition and in contrast to authoritarianism[110], totalitarianism is not just hostile to liberal democracy; it is the enemy of democracy as a regime, per se. According to Heywood, totalitarianism is an all-encompassing system of political rule that is typically established by pervasive ideological manipulation and open terror and brutality […]. It implies the outright abolition of civil society: the abolition of the ‘private’”[111].

 

Major analysts have pointed out more crucial differences between the two political ideologies, such as the intention of totalitarian regimes to gain massive social mobilization, on the one hand, and authoritarian regimes’ low levels of mobilization and politicization, on the other[112]. Moreover, ideology plays a key role in totalitarianism in contrast with authoritarianism that stands indifferent to any ideology[113]. The dual nature of totalitarian regimes was well-known during the 20th century, in their Nazi and communist versions, as they have been pertinently described by Hannah Arendt[114].

 

The question arising now, after these semantic clarifications, is whether SYRIZA government can be considered as a totalitarian regime. A passionate debate on this is taking place in Greece among pro-European reformists. Many people claim that SYRIZA, and the way the government officials exert power, is out of the democratic spectrum[115] given that it is an anti-democratic, anti-European party demonstrating totalitarian features.[116]

 

On the other hand, some others claim that SYRIZA aims at the authoritarian version of the “dominant party”[117], which is atrocious but not totalitarian, or they believe that SYRIZA has been transformed into a mechanism whereby its cadres care only for the exertion of power, adding that “its major characteristic is populism and its minor tone is he left culture and mentality”[118].

 

Similarly, Nikolas Sevastakis believes: “I do not think that the dominant political culture of SYRIZA is the Leninist legacy or the maintenance of the communist mythology. On the contrary, what is more important, in my opinion, is the superficial mixture of all the resistance moments during its history, at will, resulting in a rich ideology with a moral rhetoric[119]

 

Pragmatically speaking, the belief that SYRIZA government tends to be a totalitarian regime has not been not verified, at least yet. It is true that many of the measures taken by SYRIZA could also comprise a political option for a totalitarian regime; however, hardly anyone could detect “open terror and brutality” as it is defined by Heywood, whilst the attempts of “social mobilization” in support of the government turned out to be a caricature. On the contrary, systematic efforts are made to manipulate ideology and abolish the separation of powers.

 

Taking into consideration what we have just said, is it enough to conclude that SYRIZA has nothing to do with totalitarianism and are there no risks involved for a future totalitarian deviation? I am afraid we cannot reach firm conclusions. SYRIZA’s authoritarian populism should be analyzed as a type of shallow ideology in relation to a supreme ideology that functions as a “nest” of populism, as breeding ground, which transforms the rhetoric into political action. This ideology for the majority of SYRIZA members is just communism, in other words, a form of totalitarianism. This communist identity of the SYRIZA party is described with clarity by Aristidis Baltas, top SYRIZA member, former minister of Culture, who had also served as a minister of Education: “What is the seventh K? Let us not comment on it for the time being. Because it is the concept that governs and links all the above. It is the ‘K’ that stands for Kommunismos, the idea of Communism that has already been renewed and enriched with the support of myriads of people in the whole world”[120].

 

Alexis Tsipras warmly endorses these views as well. It is no coincidence that in his first radio interview on the partisan radio station “Sto Kokkino”, Tsipras quoted Lenin, revealing his beliefs, in an attempt to explain why he had to compromise with the creditors in July 2015. He specifically referred to Lenin’s book Left-Wing Communism-An infantile Disorder, where it is said that if you are threatened by a robber, “your money or your life”, and you give your money, this is a fair compromise.[121] Therefore, the European Union, in the exemplary Leninist terminology, becomes synonymous to a robber, who aims at stealing the Greek people’s money, posing “a cynical blackmailing dilemma”. Following that interview, the partisan newspaper of SYRIZA, Avgi, flooded with analyses, explaining why the government had to give in to the creditors’ demands, stressing that that compromise was necessary for the final goal which has always been socialism. This idea has been repeated many times, and more recently by Aristidis Baltas, who tried to justify the privatization deal over the former “Elliniko” airport in Athens, by saying that this is called the “democratic road to socialism”, explaining that this road is too long, it takes time, there will be compromises, victories and defeats.[122]

 

If the majority of the SYRIZA government officials make such statements, support such opinions, then it is more than obvious that this country, Greece, is governed by people who have totalitarian ideas and use authoritarian methods. Totalitarianism is tempting and we stand on the border, only just a small step away (from it). There is a “grey zone”, a common place, between authoritarianism and totalitarianism.[123] The SYRIZA-ANEL government is walking in this grey zone. The transition to totalitarianism can be activated in any moment and it seems that many analysts are right when they say that the reason why this has not happened yet is that Greece is still within the European framework and under surveillance.

 

The government reactions triggered by the State Council’s ruling on the unconstitutionality of the tv licence act, introduced by Pappas, show that the separation of powers is a rather incomprehensible concept for the SYRIZA government officials. Their ideological core is filled with totalitarian and communist doctrines. They will not hesitate to put them into practice when the time is right.

 

There are two objections to the above.

 

First, it is said that the majority of SYRIZA members have abandoned their obsessions. Their desire to exert power, and enjoy the privileges that it offers, prevails over the theoretical and ideological core of the Party.

 

Second, it is also said that the Leninist wing inside SYRIZA has been decreased significantly, after PASOK loyalists joined the party, who are far from such beliefs. Therefore, we should not take into consideration its pompous and grandiloquent language, but we should acknowledge that SYRIZA is a political party fully integrated into systemic rationality.

 

However, the second objection can be easily overruled by the figures. Out of the 144 SYRIZA parliamentarians in total, only 15-20 come from the PASOK party.[124] The Political Secretariat consists of the Political Committee (13 members; none of them comes from PASOK) and the Executive Committee (16 members; only one, Antonis Kotsakas, comes from PASOK); thus the former PASOK members are simply non-existent.[125]

 

In the Cabinet, only 9 out of its 46 members come from PASOK.[126] In the recent SYRIZA conference, the vast majority of the candidates belonged to the hard core of SYRIZA, when its popularity nationally was as low as 4%. The “new entries” to the party, coming from PASOK, either did not submit their candidature in the conference or, if they did, they were outvoted.[127] Consequently, in terms of organization and decision-making the participation of former PASOK members is insignificant and purely semiotic in the SYRIZA structure.[128] The hard-core SYRIZA members are highly critical towards former PASOK politicians who joined SYRIZA, claiming that during the last years, SYRIZA accepted ‘powerful and influential’ people to join the party, but this was a price too high to pay, as these people had nothing to do with the mentality of the Left. They offended our values and identity by presenting theories such as ‘The Left of nothingness’, theyignored collective expression, they underestimated the unselfish contribution of our thousands of members, stepping on them, pretending to be leaders, as if, people, we owe them one…”[129]

 

PASOK has contributed to SYRIZA with more than 80% of its electoral base, its voters before the crisis in Greece, but SYRIZA’s party and government structure is controlled by a closed leadership club, who share specific ideologies and political beliefs. The so-called “dialectical synthesis”, as it has been ironically pointed out by Kostas Anagnostopoulos[130], of some transformed members of the Communist Youth of Greece who later joined the radical Left-wing and the populist wing of “deep PASOK” occurred only in the base, not on the top of SYRIZA, which stayed intact.

 

The first argument that ideologies melt for the sake of power, can be seriously considered. We have seen it many times, not only in Greece. However, we keep forgetting that the lust for power obliges the government officials to take decisions. But what is the ideological frame that will define their decisions? What are the principles? What is their value system? What are the intellectual and mental qualities found in SYRIZA politicians? Even when these decisions are taken by the creditors and announced to the government, which is the value system that allows SYRIZA politicians to resist and not implement them?

 

Obviously, it is the value system of ideas and ideologies that have been developing for all these years when they were in the safe position of the opposition[131]; inexpensive accusations and denunciations, just popular slogans, contempt for democracy, authoritarian and Leninist totalitarian ideologies.

 

It sounds like the joke with the frog and the scorpion. The scorpion asks the frog’s help to cross the river. The frog agrees. But halfway across the river, the frog feels a sharp sting on his back. It was the scorpion. “Why did you do it?” asked the frog, “now we will both die!” “I couldn’t help myself. It’s my nature”.

 

Translated by Millie Tsoumani

 

 

Petros Papasarantopoulos is author and editor. Recent books: Myths and Stereotypes in Greek Crisis (Epikentro, 2012), Extremism and Political Violence in Greece (Epikentro, 2014).

 


 

[1] Cas Mudde, SYRIZA: The failure of the Populist Promise, Palgrave Macmillan, 2017.

 

[2] Ibid.

 

[3]Cas Mudde, “Syriza’s Second Year in Power: From Being Isolated to Being Ignored,” Huffington Post, January 30, 2017, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/syrizas-second-year-in-power-from-being-isolated_us_588ff17fe4b04c35d58351d5

 

[4] See Dora Antoniou, “Tsipras’ proposal for constitutional reform”, H Kathimerini, July 25, 2016 (in Greek).

 

[5]For referendums and Democracy, see Cas Mudde, “The Case Against Referendums (Not just the Uncomfortable Ones)”, The Huffington Post, October 7, 2016, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/the-case-against-referendums-not-just-the-uncomfortable_us_57822a52e4b05b4c02fccf7b

 

[6] “Hard-core arguments in the Parliament in view of the vote for the inquiry committee”, Ta Nea, July 26, 2016 (in Greek).

 

[7] For inside party reactions to the constitutional reform, “No! to Constitutional Reform, say the group 53+ of SYRIZA”, TVXS, June 16 2016, at http://tvxs.gr/news/ellada/oxi-sti-syntagmatiki-anatheorisi-lene-oi-53-toy-syriza (in Greek).

 

[8] Apostolos Lakasas, “Conflict between the U.S. Embassy and the Dean of the University of Athens for Koufodina’s book”, H Kathimerini, July 19, 2014 (in Greek).

 

[9]See Editorial, The Books’ Journal, issue 70, October 2016.

 

[10] See, “Tsipras ‘lectures’ the State Council on media licences-Prime Minister’s statement created quite a stir about the constitutionality of the law on media licences, during the press conference in Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF)”, The TOC, September 11, 2016, at http://www.thetoc.gr/politiki/article/o-tsipras-nouthetei-to-ste-gia-tis-adeies-twn-kanalion (in Greek).

 

[11] Eleftheria Kollia, “Vasiliki Thanou-Christofilou: The unionist who became President of the Hellenic Supreme Court”, To Vima, July 4, 2015, http://www.tovima.gr/society/article/?aid=719465 (in Greek).

 

[12]Alexandros Avlonitis, “New Presidents at the CoS, and the Court of Audit”, To Ethnos, October 23, 2015 (in Greek).

 

[13] It is worth noticing that a few days later, on February 25, 2016, fourteen Professors of Constitutional Law, under a common statement, asked the President of the Hellenic Supreme Court to withdraw the charges, expressing also support to Professor Tsakyrakis.

 

[14] “Tsatsani vs. Thanou”, Efimerida ton Syntakton, April 6, 2016, at http://www.efsy’n.gr/arthro/tsatsani-kata-thanoy6/4/20116 (in Greek).

 

[15] Gianna Papadakou, “Disciplinary proceedings against the highest members of the Judiciary -The new document of the President of CoS about the calling of a Plenary Session of the Public Prosecutor’s Office”, To Vima, October 26, 2015, at http://www.tovima.gr/society/article/?aid=748999 (in Greek).

 

[16] “Dogiakos is over: A new case against Dogiakos for a web of offences”, Golden Dawn, February 21, 2016, at http://www.xryshaygh.com/enimerosi/view/kai-nea-diwjh-kata-ntogiakou (in Greek).

 

[17] Evangelos Venizelos, “The legal framework of the Georgiou case/Hellenic Statistical Authority”, September 6, 2016, at http://www.evenizelos.gr/409-mme/articles/2016/5416-2016-09-06-06-048-16.html (in Greek).

 

[18] Ioanna Mandrou, “Andreas Georgiou of ELSTAT found innocent,” Kathimerini, December 7, 2016 (in Greek).

 

[19] “Disagreement and resignation of two vice-presidents of the CoS because of the suspended plenary session on tv licences”, To Ethnos, October 5, 2016, at http://www.ethnos.gr/koinonia/arthro/diafonia_kai_paraitisi_2_antiproedron_tou_symvouliou_tis_epikrateias-64553892 (in Greek). See also Nikos Alivizatos, “The two vice-presidents and the prestige of Justice”, H Kathimerini, October 9, 2016 (in Greek).

 

[20] “25% return on all Judges’ income tax for the last 5 years”, CNN.gr, October 12, 2016, at http://www.cnn.gr/news/ellada/story/50044/epistrofi-toy-25-toy-foroy-eisodimatos-tis-teleytaias-5etias-stoys-dikastikoys (in Greek).

 

[21] For reactions to Sakellariou’s statement, see “Venizelos: Institutional terror by the President Sakellariou’s statements - He talks about government transactions with Justice leadership”, To Vima, October 6, 2016, at http://www.tovima.gr/politics/article/?aid=834301 (in Greek).

 

[22] Ioanna Mandrou, “Extension of 67 as the age of retirement, key topic discussed at the meeting between Tsipras –top judges”, H Kathimerini, October 11, 2016 (in Greek).

 

[23]“A ‘slap’ in Thanou’s face the decision of the Plenary of the Supreme Court, ” CNN Greece, February 8, 2017, http://www.cnn.gr/news/ellada/story/66644/xastoyki-sti-thanoy-i-apofasi-tis-olomeleias-toy-areioy-pagoy (in Greek).

 

[24] “CoS: tv channels’ appeals fully admissible”, Naftemporiki, October 18, 2016, at http://www.naftemporiki.gr/story/1161070/ste-paradektes-oi-prosfuges-ton-kanalion (in Greek).

 

[25] “Tsipras: ‘Mass Media coup’ by the system of corruption”, Athens Voice, October 23, 2016 at http://www.athensvoice.gr/politiki/tsipras-mintiako-praxikopima-apo-systima-diaplokis (in Greek).

 

[26] “Pappas: Unpleasant development for the function of Democracy, if the law is ruled unconstitutional,” iefimerida, October 21, 2016, at http://www.iefimerida.gr/news/296014/pappas-dysaresti-exelixi-gia-ti-leitoyrgia-tis-dimokratias-ean-krithei-antisyntagmatikos#ixzz4O7djIIVA  (in Greek).

 

[27] “No ruling on tv licences. Council of State’s Meeting ended without a decision,” Protagon, October 24, 2016 at http://www.protagon.gr/epikairotita/44341259128 (in Greek).

 

[28] Lina Papadopoulou, “A severe blow to the rule of law”, To Ethnos, October 23, 2016 (in Greek).

 

[29] Lampros Stavropoulos, “Venizelos: Hands off Justice and Institutions - the organized plan to blackmail the CoS is nothing but a constitutional deviation”, To Vima, October 18, 2016 at http://www.tovima.gr/politics/article/?aid=837468 (in Greek). Venizelos claims that the major issue of the so-called constitutional deviation is what happening in Justice, i.e., systematic efforts on the part of the government, including a small group of leading Supreme Court members, to blackmail Justice highest officials and execute an organized plan in order to disdain the Council of State.

 

[30] Stratis Bournazos, “It is not ‘pink’, it is black and it’s a ‘Jungle,’” Rednotebook, October 19, 2016, at http://rednotebook.gr/2016/10/den-ine-roz-ine-mavri-ke-ine-zougkla-tou-strati-bournazou (in Greek).

 

[31] Ioanna Mandrou, “Paraskevopoulos demands immediate investigation on CoS Vice-President’s emails interception,” H Kathimerini, October 19, 2016 (in Greek).

 

[32] “Paraskevopoulos in response to the investigation against the CoS vice-president: I acted on the basis of legitimacy not on office politics”, Hmerisia, October 21, 2016, at http://www.imerisia.gr/article.asp?catid=33966&subid=2&pubid=114203919 (in Greek).

 

 

[34] Ioanna Mandrou, “Rough words and accusations by the judges”, H Kathimerini, October 23, 2016 (in Greek).

 

[35]A. Tsipras: “This land is governed neither by corruption nor by the deep parastate”, Press Office Maximos Mansion, To Vima, October 27, 2016, at http://www.tovima.gr/politics/article/?aid=839816 (in Greek).

 

[36] “Panic-stricken Gerovasili attacks the CoS, War against Justice-Insulting attacks against the Supreme Court-New bill before Parliament on Monday”, To Vima, October 26, 2016, at http://www.tovima.gr/politics/article/?aid=839803 (in Greek).

 

[37] “Appeal of 6.320 bondholders against PSI ruling in 2012 rejected”, H Kathimerini, July 22, 2016 (in Greek).

 

[38] Today’s Headline in Avgi: “Fortunately, judges don’t rule”, H Avgi, October 27, 2016,

at http://www.avgi.gr/article/10811/7588031/gynaikes-oi-eilotes-tou-synchronou-kosmou (in Greek).

 

[39] “Polakis: Judicial coup, we have a war”, in.gr, October 27, 2016, at http://news.in.gr/greece/article/?aid=1500110951 (in Greek).

 

[40] “Kretsos: Rififi CoS ruling on tv licences”, SKY, October 27, 2016, at http://www.skai.gr/news/politics/article/329079/kretsos-rififi-i-apofasi-tou-ste-gia-tis-adeies/#ixzz4OO9Hag3d (in Greek).

 

[41] “Kretsos’ attacks again Justice: Arrogance and hubris from the CoS towards the 30% of the citizens of the country”, iefimerida, October 28, 2016, at http://www.iefimerida.gr/news/297501/kretsos-alazoneia-kai-yvris-apo-ste-sto-30-ton-politon-tis-horas (in Greek).

 

[42] “Kammenos decapitates dep. Secretary of the ANEL party after his frenzy: ‘thrash justice’”iefimerida, October 28, 2016, at http://www.iefimerida.gr/news/297434/o-kammenos-karatomise-ton-grammatea-ton-anel-meta-paralirima-toy-na-tsakisoyn-tin#ixzz4OOJMv (in Greek).

 

[43] “Alivizatos: Gerovasili’s statement really takes the biscuit”, iefimerida, October 27, 2016, at http://www.iefimerida.gr/news/297337/alivizatos-xepernaei-kathe-orio-i-dilosi-tis-gerovasili#ixzz4OIx8dS8u (in Greek).

 

[44] The full text of Venizelos’ statement posted on October 27, 2016, at http://www.evenizelos.gr/410-mme/statements/statements2016/5463-2016-10-26-22-05-17.html (in Greek).

 

[45] “German press: the flagrancy of the government towards the CoS is impressive”, iefimerida, October 28, 2016, at http://www.iefimerida.gr/news/297554/germanofonos-typos-entyposiazei-i-thrasytita-me-tin-opoia-i-kyvernisi-epitithetai-sto (in Greek).

 

[46] For the composition of NCRTV, Ta Nea, November 10, 2016, http://www.tanea.gr/news/politics/article/5405429/analytika-h-nea-synthesh-toy-esr/ (in Greek),

 

[47] Aris Ravanos, “Karamanlis’ loyalists in line with the SYRIZA Party”, To Vima, August 7, 2016, at http://www.tovima.gr/politics/article/?aid=820373 (in Greek). See also Sakis Moumtzis, “Do not underestimate them. It won’t help us”, Liberal, October 10, 2016, at http://www.liberal.gr/arthro/84125/apopsi/s-moumtzis/na-min-tous-upotimoume-den-mas-boithei.html#pageundefined (in Greek).

 

[48] On that matter see Tassos Telloglou’s extremely informative article, “The President, the minister and the judge”, Inside Story, November 16, 2016, https://insidestory.gr/article/proedros-ypoyrgos-dikastis?token=P85315656T (in Greek).

 

[49] Giannis Voulgaris, “Degradation of public ethics”, Ta Nea, October 22, 2016 (in Greek).

 

[50] Evangelos Venizelos, “Independent Authorities after the Greek Constitutional Reform in 1975/1986/2001”, October 29, 2002, at http://www.evenizelos.gr/127-programm-proposals/state/transparency/1120-197519862001.html (in Greek).

 

[51]Ivi Mavromoustakou, “Independent Authorities. The difficulty to achieve consensus on the article 101A of the Constitution”, at https://www.eap.gr/images/stories/doc/2013_deo10_dp_series_34.doc (in Greek).  See also: I. Mavromoustakou, A Comparative & European Approach on Independent Administrative Authorities, Nomiki Vivliothiki, Athens, 2013 (in Greek).

 

[52] See Ioannis E. Nikolaou, Alexandros Stefanakis, “Independent Authorities & Democracy: ‘A Big Fat Greek Wedding’”, August 13,  2016, at http://www.npress.gr/apopseis/anexartites-arches-ke-dimokratia-gamos-ala-ellinika/ (in Greek).

 

[53] “Kim Jong Tsipras … wants independent authorities under his control”, dailyopinion.gr, January 4, 2015, at http://www.dailyopinion.gr/kim-giongk-tsipras-theli-ipo-ton-elegcho-tou-oles-tis-anexartites-arches/ (in Greek).

 

[54]Christoforos Vernardakis, Giannis Sklias, “The State, the Party and the Government”, SYRIZA blogspot, at http://www.syriza.gr/article/To-Kratos-to-Komma-kai-h-Kybernhsh.html#.V_rGF_Tp04k (in Greek).

 

[55] Christos Risvas, “Let’s update the structures-structural changes towards a left-wing direction and class society orientation”, http://www.syriza.gr/article/Na-epikairopoihsoyme-tis-domikes---diarthrwtikes-allages-me-aristerh-kateythynsh-kai-taksiko-prosanatolismo.html#.V_rHivTp04k (in Greek).

 

[56]Dimitris N. Maniatis, “The Left, the state and the keys to the power”, Ta Nea, October 22, 2016 (in Greek).

 

[57] “Theocharis: SYRIZA is allergic to independent authorities”, in.gr, January 29, 2016, at http://news.in.gr/greece/article/?aid=1500054846 (in Greek).

 

[58] “ND denounces the fall of independent authorities by the government”, news247.gr, January 29, 2016, at http://news247.gr/eidiseis/politiki/h-nd-kataggellei-alwsh-twn-aneksarthtwn-arxwn-apo-thn-kyvernhsh.3882532.html (in Greek).

 

[59] Aggelos Stagos, “Independent authorities cannot be tolerated…”, H Kathimerini, October 25, 2015 (in Greek).

 

[60] Petros Papasarantopoulos, “Dual power and the mad boat”, Metarrithmisi, April 11, 2015, -%CE%B4%CE%B9%CE%B1%CE%BB%CE%BF%CE%B3%CE%BF%CF%82/%CE%B7-%CE%B4%CF%85%CE%B1%CE%B4%CE%B9%CE%BA%CE%AE-%CE%B5%CE%BE%CE%BF%CF%85%CF%83%CE%AF%CE%B1-%CE%BA%CE%B1%CE%B9-%CF%84%CE%BF-%CF%84%CF%81%CE%B5%CE%BB%CF%8C-%CE%BA%CE%B1%CF%81%CE%AC%CE%B2%CE%B9 (in Greek).

 

[61]Panagiota Bitsika, “Under the microscope the institutional framework of Independent Authorities,” To Vima, November 4, 2016, http://www.tovima.gr/society/article/?aid=842017 (in Greek).

 

[62]Giannis Agouridis, “Key issue posed by SYRIZA officials: Stournaras undermines the government”, H Avgi, May 13, 2015 (in Greek).

 

[63] “Raid on office of Yannis Stournaras’ wife - A few hours after the Bank of Greece rejected the proposed candidates for the Attica Bank Board of Directors”, Proto Thema, September 15, 2016, at http://www.protothema.gr/greece/article/610962/ereuna-ton-eisaggeleon-sto-spiti-tis-suzugou-tou-gianni-stournara/ (in Greek).

 

[64] Kerin Hope, “Raid on office of central banker’s wife raises concerns in Greece-Some see Syriza revenge behind prosecutors’ action on central banker’s wife”, Financial Times, September 16, 2016, at https://www.ft.com/content/583ff546-7c1d-11e6-b837-eb4b4333ee43

 

 

[66] “Dimitris Kontominas charged with tax evasion”, HuffPost, Greece, October 20, 2016, at http://www.huffingtonpost.gr/2016/10/20/koinonia-oikonomia-kontominas_n_12572738.html (in Greek).

 

[67] Lampros Stavropoulos: “Hard opposition in the Parliament-tv licences trigger a storm of protest by the Opposition- legislative regulation passed with 154 ‘Yes’ votes”, To Vima, February 10, 2016, at http://www.tovima.gr/politics/article/?aid=775767 (in Greek).

 

[68] Dimitris Galanis, “Study of the Institute of Florence on tv licences: Our proposal is only about high definition programmes-Questions arisen about Mr. Pappas’ choice on HD broadcast-The starting bid is set at 500,000 euros”, To Vima, February 10, 2016. See also, “Nikos Pappas is lying about tv licences.-What is actually happening in Europe”, Liberal, February 12 2016, at http://www.liberal.gr/arthro/32876/epikairotita/2016/ta-psemata-tou-nikou-pappa-gia-tis-adeies--ti-pragmatika-sumbainei-stin-europi-.html (in Greek).

 

[69] E. Venizelos’ speech about tv licences, in the event organized by the Greek Association of Public Law, at http://www.evenizelos.gr/407-speeches/conferencespeech/conferencespeech2016/5433-2016-09-29-11-57-03.html (in Greek).

 

[70] Dimitris Psarras, “The underground Greek-Russian ‘pipes’”, Efimerida ton Syntakton, May 28, 2016, at http://www.efsyn.gr/arthro/oi-ypogeioi-ellinorosikoi-agogoi (in Greek).

 

[71] Christos Bokas, “Tsipras: Only 500 auctions took place this year-It is a myth that during the SYRIZA government the number of auctions has increased”, To Proto Thema, October 10, 2016 (in Greek).

 

[72] The reputable German newspaper FAZ, specifically points out: “Tsipras government plays on the Media, the Banks and the Justice System”, iefimerida, October 19, 2016, at http://www.iefimerida.gr/news/295451/arthro-katapeltis-tis-faz-systima-tsipra-ekmetalleyetai-ta-mme-tis-trapezes-kai-ti#ixzz4NZ4JllOG (in Greek).

 

[73] “Intense reaction by the ND Party: The coup climaxes. Pappas amendment: within five days tv channels not awarded the licence are to close down”, iefimerida, October 14, 2016, at http://www.iefimerida.gr/news/294660/tropologia-pappa-se-pente-meres-kleinoyn-ta-kanalia-poy-den-piran-adeia-pdf#ixzz4NHkETBSp (in Greek).

 

[74] Christos Panagiotopoulos (aixmiradio), “Fotis, Alexis and ‘black’, Mega tv off the air”, aixmi.gr, September 15, 2016, at http://www.aixmi.gr/index.php/xrhstos-panagivtopoylos-aixmiradio-fotis-alexis/ (in Greek).

 

[75] “F. Bobolas: ‘Pegasus’ received an 80-million loan despite financial crisis”, H Kathimerini, August 2, 2016 (in Greek).

 

[76] For a precise chronicle of events see Tassos Telloglou, “Mass Media: forty days of agony for the government”, insidestory.gr, October 20, 2016, at https://insidestory.gr/article/mme-saranta-meres-agonias?token=KSG564TWLS (in Greek).

 

[77] Dora Antoniou, “Al. Tsipras: Post-modern media coup”, H Kathimerini, October 11, 2016(in Greek). See also, Sakis Moumtzis, “The post-modern coup, precursor of censorship”, Liberal. gr, October 12, 2016, at http://www.liberal.gr/arthro/84757/apopsi/s-moumtzis/to-isonmetamonterno-praxikopimasin-proaggelos-logokrisias.html (in Greek).

 

[78] “Polakis’ attacks again the Media: Tv channels are cesspool-Video”, enikos.gr, July 12, 2016, at http://www.enikos.gr/politics/399253,Nea-epi8esh-toy-Polakh-sta-MME-Einai-vo8rokanala-BINTEO.htm (in Greek).

 

[79] “Gerovasili against tv media: Instead of broadcasting the Summit they were showing cooking recipes”, tvxs, September 9, 2016, at  http://tvxs.gr/news/ellada/gerobasili-kata-kanalion-anti-gia-ti-synodo-edeixnan-ekpompes-mageirikis (in Greek).

 

[80] Andreas Petroulakis, “P. Kammenos is asking 1 million euros from me”, Protagon, March 27, 2015, at http://www.protagon.gr/epikairotita/ellada/o-p-kammenos-mou-zita-1-ekatommyrio-40249000000 (in Greek).

 

[81] Dimitris Kanellopoulos, “Cheapo! Triantafyllidis’ price only at €100,000 (ERT-3/SYRIZA)”, Efimerida ton Syntakton, September 13, 2016, at http://www.efsyn.gr/arthro/ftinia-mono-100-hil-i-timi-toy-triantafyllidi-ert-3syriza (in Greek).

 

[82] Stathis Kalyvas, “When ‘cholera’ becomes a career prospect”, H Kathimerini, October 9, 2016 (in Greek).

 

[83] Thodoris Georgakopoulos, “The 50 cents clan”, H Kathimerini, October 21, 2016 (in Greek).

 

[84] Keza Laurie, “Ministry of Truth-The good thing with the digital world is that no secrets are kept”, BHmagazino, October 16, 2016, http://www.tovima.gr/opinions/article/?aid=836473 (in Greek).

 

[85]Karolina Papakosta, “SYRIZA’s … doctrine on the media,” www.tanea.gr, February 10, 2017, http://www.tanea.gr/news/politics/article/5425340/to-dogma-toy-syriza-br-gia-ta-mesa-enhmerwshs/ (in Greek), where she characteristically points out that “not only TV channel or newspaper owners have been targeted; but journalists as well. Mostly those who invite them to talk to their tv shows.”

 

[86]Antonis Karakoussis, “The ultimate theatre of the absurd”, To Vima, February 7, 2017, http://www.tovima.gr/opinions/article/?aid=861272 (in Greek), who says “while the publishing director had been left weak and helpless, while the government was hostile and was constantly thinking of ways to take control of the organization, while the Banks were ‘standardized’ after four recapitalizations using the money of the Greek people, while our competitors were ready to ‘apportion our garments’, we were and are still fighting to keep the editorial history of a century alive.”

 

[87] Philip Chrysopoulos, “Greek Gov’t Accused of Appointing Its Own as Head of Media Group, Opposition Reacts”, Greek Reporter, 18 January, http://greece.greekreporter.com/2017/01/18/greek-govt-accused-of-appointing-its-own-as-head-of-media-group-opposition-reacts/#sthash.UNkHtKPk.dpuf

 

[88]See Hlias Kanellis’ article “See you”, Ta Nea, February 8, 2017, http://www.tanea.gr/opinions/all-opinions/article/5425030/ta-leme/ (in Greek), where he says: “today the SYRIZA-ANEL government managed, apparently, to win symbolism: it is mainly because of its actions, in a symbolic and actual way, that DOL’s newspapers became silent. A victory? A Pyrrhic one. Regimes like Chavez’s and Erdogan’s do not flourish in Greece. This is guaranteed, among others, by free and independent journalists. See you, comrades.”

 

[89] Sifis Polymilis, “The plan has been uncovered”, To Vima, February 11, 2017, http://www.tovima.gr/opinions/article/?aid=861617 (in Greek), where it is suggested that “it is more than obvious that the SYRIZA-ANEL government wants the two historic newspaper to close. Because it knows very well that the people that work in them do not want new loans, do not want to save the organization on the basis of the old status quo.”

 

[90] Lambros Stavropoulos, “Tsipras about DOL: We cannot act against the decision of Justice. He did not see any possibility for an interparty legislative initiative for its salvation - The Prime Minister rejected Genimata’s proposal for a interparty committee on the media, To Vima, February 10, 2017, http://www.tovima.gr/politics/article/?aid=861537 (in Greek).

 

[91] “Tomorrow Ta Nea at newsstands”, Ta Nea, February 13, 2017, http://www.tanea.gr/news/greece/article/5425552/dikaiwsh-gia-toys-ergazomenoys-toy-dol/ (in Greek).

 

[92] Dimitra Kroustalli, “Mouzelis: Cassandra’s fantasy that Tsipras forms an authoritarian regime”, To Vima, October 11, 2016, at http://www.tovima.gr/politics/article/?aid=835470 (in Greek).

 

[93] “Fotis Kouvelis feels the need to explain why he returns to SYRIZA”, iefimerida.gr, October 12, 2016, at http://www.iefimerida.gr/news/294085/o-fotis-koyvelis-niothei-tin-anagki-na-exigisei-giati-epistrefei-ston-syriza#ixzz4O8KYsV54 (in Greek).

 

[94] Tasos Barlas, “Congress of the SYNASPISMOS Party (Coalition of the Radical Left) -The Renewal Wing walks out of the congress-Rapid developments”, To Vima, June 7, 2010, at http://www.tovima.gr/politics/article/?aid=335917 (in Greek).

 

[95] Giorgos Siakantaris, “Can SYRIZA really become a social democratic party?”, To Vima, October 16, 2016, at http://www.tovima.gr/opinions/article/?aid=836698&wordsinarticle=%ce%a3%ce%b9%ce%b1%ce%ba%ce%b1%ce%bd%cf%84%ce%ac%cf%81%ce%b7%cf%82 (in Greek).

 

[96] For more information, see Petros Papasarantopoulos, “European Left and populism”, Myths and Stereotypes of the Greek crisis, Epikentro 2012, pp.171-182 (in Greek).

 

[97] Antonis Giokas, “The reasons why European socialists flirt with Tsipras”, Newpost, February 27, 2016, at http://newpost.gr/politiki/518627/oi-logoi-poy-oi-eyrwpaioi-sosialistes-flertaroyn-me-ton-tsipra (in Greek).

 

[98]François Hollande for SYRIZA and against Podemos”, To Vima, June 30, 2016, at http://www.tovima.gr/politics/article/?aid=811899 (in Greek).

 

[99] In some other, more severe cases, Tsipras’ image as a hero has been replaced by Yanis Varoufakis’ image as a god.

 

[100] Cas Mudde, “The Hungary PM made a ‘rivers of blood’ speech…and no one cares”, The Guardian, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/jul/30/viktor-orban-fidesz-hungary-prime-minister-europe-neo-nazi

 

 

[102] See Cas Mudde, Populist Radical Right Parties in Europe. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007.

 

[103]Cas Mudde and Cristóbal Rovira Kaltwasser, Populism in Europe and the Americas: Threat or Corrective for Democracy?. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012. See also, Margaret Canovan, “Trust the people! Populism and the two faces of Democracy", Political Studies, 47 (1), 1999.

 

[104]Pierre-André Taguieff, Le nouveau national-populisme, CNRS, 2012.

 

[105] Andreas Pantazopoulos, The Left national populism 2008-2013, Epikentro 2013 (in Greek). This argument is further developed in his book, Andreas Pantazopoulos, Left national populism, from opposition to power, Epikentro 2016 (in Greek).

 

[106] Chantal Mouffe, “In defence of left-wing populism”, The Conservation, April 29, 2016, at http://theconversation.com/in-defence-of-left-wing-populism-55869

 

[107]Andrew Heywood, Political ideologies, Palgrave Macmillan, 3rd revised edition, 2003.

 

[108] Giannis Sideris, “Mr. Tsipras on the way to authoritarianism, in the midst of frictions”, Liberal, October 24, 2016, at http://www.liberal.gr/arthro/87913/politiki/2016/o-k-tsipras-sto-dromo-tou-autarchismou-en-meso-trigmon.html (in Greek).

 

[109] Nikos Tellis, “Is Democracy in danger?”, Karfitsa, October 8, 2016 at http://www.karfitsa.gr/2016/10/08/kindyneyei-i-dimokratia/, (in Greek).

 

[110]For authoritarianism and totalitarianism as communicating vessels, in many cases, the findings of the polls conducted and analysed by Nikos Marantzidis are indicative, in “Why SYRIZA provides votes to Golden Dawn”, Kathimerini, December 18, 2016, where he notes that “the polls, moreover, show a voter movement from SYRIZA directly to Golden Dawn. This trend is not high (just one per cent of the voters), but it is worth mentioning. On the one hand, it is higher than the percentage of movement from SYRIZA to PASOK or to LAE for example, and on the other hand, it may reveal a wider dynamics in Golden Dawn, which is not easy to see, as it is often the case with this kind of parties.”

 

[111]Heywood, ibid.

 

[112]Juan José Linz, Totalitarian and Authoritarian Regimes, Lynne Rienner Publishers, 2000. For an overall review see Giovanni Sartori, Parties and Party Systems: A Framework for Analysis, ECPR Press, 2005.

 

[113] Jerzy W. Borejsza – Klaus Ziemer, Totalitarian and Authoritarian Regimes in Europe: Legacies and Lessons from the Twentieth Century, Berghahn Books, 2006, and Hans Maier, Totalitarianism and Political Religions, Psychology Press, 2004.

 

[114] Hannah Arendt, The Origins of Totalitarianism, Harcourt, Brace, Jovanovich, 1st edition, 1973.

 

[115] Joachim Gryspolakis, “Why SYRIZA does not belong to the Democratic spectrum”, Liberal, October 12, 2016, http://www.liberal.gr/arthro/84716/apopsi/arthra/giati-o-syriza-den-anikei-sto-dimokratiko-toxo.html (in Greek).

 

[116] Sakis Moumtzis, “They are completely out of their minds”, Liberal, September 26, 2016, at http://www.liberal.gr/arthro/80411/apopsi/s-moumtzis/echoun-xefugei-entelos.html (in Greek).

 

[117] Panagiotis Ioakimidis, “How far will SYRIZA go?”, To Vima, October 9, 2016, at http://www.tovima.gr/opinions/article/?aid=834842&wordsinarticle=%ce%99%cf%89%ce%b1%ce%ba%ce%b5%ce%b9%ce%bc%ce%af%ce%b4%ce%b7%cf%82 (in Greek).

 

[118] Kostas Anagnostopoulos, “About SYRIZA”, October 5, 2016, at https://kpanagnostopoulos.wordpress.com/2016/10/05/%CF%80%CE%B5%CF%81%CE%AF-%CF%83%CF%85%CF%81%CE%B9%CE%B6%CE%B1/ (in Greek).

 

[119] Nikolas Sevastakis, “Introduction” in Stavros Konstantinidis, Love in the Time of SYRIZA, Epikentro 2016 (in Greek).

 

[120] Aristidis Baltas, “The seven Ks”, H Avgi, January 4, 2015. Note: In his interview, Baltas mentions 7 concepts all of which start with the letter ‘K’ in the Greek alphabet, so does the word communism <Kommunismos> in Greek, that is why he makes a pun with the seventh ‘K’.

 

[121] Alexis Tsipras on “Sto Kokkino” radio station: “Memorandum is the wrong recipe, we give a fight to extricate ourselves-SYRIZA will follow a coordinated decision making procedure”, Left.gr, July 29, 2015, at https://left.gr/news/stis-12-m-o-alexis-tsipras-sto-kokkino-parakoloythiste-lepto-pros-lepto-ti-synenteyxi (in Greek).

 

[122] Lampros Stavropoulos, “Baltas about Elliniko airport: on the way to socialism there are defeats and compromises”, To Vima, September 21, 2016, at http://www.tovima.gr/politics/article/?aid=830391 (in Greek).

 

[123] Petros Papasarantopoulos, “Europe at a crossroads: the phantom of populism and extreme right-wing”, Metarithmisi, April 3, 2014 at http://www.metarithmisi.gr/el/readArchives.asp?catID=2&subCatID=8&textID=29200 (in Greek).

 

[124] “The new balance of powers in SYRIZA’s Central Committee”, Efimerida ton Syntakton, October 18, 2016, at https://www.efsyn.gr/arthro/o-neos-syshetismos-dynameon-sti-kentriki-epitropi-toy-syriza (in Greek).

 

[125] “SYRIZA’s Political Secretariat: The names of the Political and Executive Committee- Panagiotis Rigas New Secretariat”, To Proto Thema, October 23, 2016 at http://www.protothema.gr/politics/article/622002/politiki-grammateia-suriza-deite-ola-ta-onomata/ (in Greek).

 

[126] Giannis Makrygiannis, “The secret allure of PASOK members: 7+2 members of the cabinet come from PASOK”, To Proto Thema, September 24, 2015, at http://www.protothema.gr/politics/article/512048/i-krufi-goiteia-ton-pasokon-9-meli-tis-kuvernisis-proerhodai-apo-to-kinima/ (in Greek).

 

[127] “The SYRIZA conference ‘slaughtered’ former PASOK members. They used them and threw them away”, at http://thecaller.gr/parapolitika/sfagi-pasokogenon-sto-sinedrio-tou-siriza/ (in Greek).

 

[128] Sakis Moumtzis, “SYRIZA=the new PASOK. It’s a myth”, Liberal, October 21, 2016, http://thecaller.gr/parapolitika/sfagi-pasokogenon-sto-sinedrio-tou-siriza/ (in Greek).

 

[129] “Cruel criticism by the 53+ on the former PASOK members joining SYRIZA”, Ta Nea, October 14, 2016, at http://www.tanea.gr/news/politics/article/5398125/sklhrh-kritikh-apo-toys-53-sto-synedrio-toy-syriza/ (in Greek).

 

[130] Anagnostopoulos, ibid.

 

[131] Pavlos Eleftheriadis, “Authoritarianism: from theory to practice”, To Vima, October 23, 2016, at http://www.tovima.gr/opinions/article/?aid=838581 (in Greek).

 

Πέτρος Παπασαραντόπουλος

Πέτρος Παπασαραντόπουλος. Εκδότης και συγγραφέας. Πρόσφατα βιβλία του: Λεωνίδας Κύρκος: Εκ βαθέων (επιμ., 2009), Πολιτικό τραβέρσο στην ύστερη μεταπολίτευση (2010), Μύθοι και στερεότυπα της ελληνικής κρίσης (2012). Τελευταίο βιβλίο του, Εξτρεμισμός και πολιτική βία στην Ελλάδα. Το Big Bang της Χρυσής Αυγής (2014).

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