Monday, November 5, 2012

Hope for Greece?

Demetrios has a new hero, or heroine, rather. Her name is Zoë Konstantinopoulou and she’s a Member of Parliament from the Syriza Party. She’s on a committee ostensibly looking into financial corruption in government. (Crooks always like to investigate themselves, don’t they?) And Demetrios watches her almost every weeknight on the Greek counterpart to C-SPAN, grilling one thug after another, chopping them up into small bits and grinding them into the dust. “If they thought Harry Truman gave ‘em hell, she gives ‘em hell a hundred times more,” says Demetrios. “She’s Margaret Thatcher, times ten!”

She has her facts all organized and documented. She has her questions carefully prepared. She must have been some kind of prosecutor once, Demetrios thinks. She’s brilliant. She skillfully, methodically, and ruthlessly exposes, in detail, how the whole rotten system works and who does what and where the money goes and how they cover it up. Demetrios laughs out loud to see the men she interrogates being shown to be ridiculous and worse, spluttering and protesting, often having no answer, turning red from fury. They lash out at her, they are rude and crude, they call for the chairman to stop her. They threaten to unseat him if he won’t, but he can’t. The gavel bangs, she is told to cease and desist, but she goes right on, her voice louder and more persistent than theirs, saying we have to take the time required to do this investigation properly. She is told she is rude and she replies, “Your accusation doesn’t bother me. I was brought up to have good manners. It’s yours that need looking after.” All this, on live television. She is unflappable and, so far, unstoppable.

She gets away with it because in any showdown not only would her own Syriza Party support her, but also the Golden Dawn Party, the Communist Party (which always supports any dissent), and the rats deserting the sinking ships of the other parties. That’s the whole spectrum, from far left to far right and everything in between.

Maybe one day, says Demetrios hopefully, she will be Greece’s new leader.

“Very entertaining,” I tell him, “but her party, for all its talk of change, change, change, makes it quite clear they have no plans to do anything differently, either. So what’s the point? It’s all talk.”

“Maybe she will start a new party, or maybe she’ll become the leader of Syriza and maybe under her leadership it will make the necessary changes, after all. I don’t know, but I can hope.”

Nobody watching her for a single evening can still harbor any illusions about what is going on. That’s the importance of what she’s doing. Anybody who still wasn’t awake before listening to her has got to be now, anyone watching her who was awake but not very well informed has got to be now, and even I concede that to be awake and well informed are two very valuable assets to the people. Well done, Zoë!


Anam Cara said...

since you are writing this from Greece, I take it you won't be home for the election...

Anastasia Theodoridis said...

You're right. No candidate to whom we feel, in good conscience, we can give our "mandate".

We'll be home in the next few days, though.

DebD said...

I always enjoy reading your little peeks into Greek gov't and society- from someone who is actually there watching.