A Greek Demands No More Lies: "If We Opt For Comforting But Phony Rhetoric We Dig Our Own Graves"

By Alexis Papachelas, first posted in Kathimerini

No More Lies

We have become accustomed to cynicism and lies that we have are immune to anything that is said. Various people come up with comments like: “Come on, SYRIZA is all talk, it won’t actually carry out what it says; I’m certain of it. It will do an about-face.” This position is not adopted by voters alone. Opposition officials are reassuring representatives of the establishment that they have nothing to fear with regard to what’s on the party program as it is not binding in any way.

Of course this was also the case with the previous opposition and the one before that. They promised one thing in public, another in their program and ended up delivering something completely different in the end. This is something of a political disease in Greece. In a normal country citizens would not elect anyone who so blatantly showed that what was said during the pre-election period was merely a gimmick to attract votes. Sure, we put up with it in the past and still do today. It’s a populist tradition that began with the tough-guy attitude of Andreas Papandreou. Remember the US military bases issue? We glorified Papandreou as a political maestro as he fooled people with promises of closing the bases and then fooled them again by keeping them open. We ended up giving legitimacy to lies and accepting hypocrisy as a legitimate tactic used by our leaders. Despite the crisis, this tradition stands today. Politicians utter big words for the public with a wink to those in the know, a tip that they will not do as they say.

What’s worse is that Greek politicians have lied to our foreign partners and creditors with same ease with which they lie to us. For instance, they signed a memorandum with dozens of reforms they pledged to implement within a given period of time. Then they started the funny business: laws were passed but either left unimplemented or even canceled altogether. Then, just before a new bailout tranche was to be released, the excuses would start, blaming others or forces beyond their control for their lack of progress. Those outside Greece could not understand why any responsible politician would sign on the dotted line when they couldn’t deliver and our credibility suffered. The cost ultimately fell on those who were unable to shield themselves from amendments passed on the sly, directives that only the most savvy could possibly understand; in short, it fell on the taxpayers, who were bled dry.

It’s time for citizens and the media to grow up. To pressure politicians for the truth and not to ostracize those who dare to tell it like it is. If we opt for comforting rhetoric, knowing how phony it is, we will be digging our own graves.