The end of democracy in modern Athens

Yesterday I witnessed the Greek protests in Constitution (Syntagma) square in the center of Athens. The square took its name from the chants of protesters during the uprising of the 3rd September 1843. Back then, the Greek people forced their Bavarian king, Otto, to abide by a constitution. Back then, my country was a protectorate of England, France and Russia. Today, Greece is a protectorate of the European Union and the International Monetary Fund. As in 1843, Greek people today are asking for independence and a new constitution. We fight a financial war as brutal as the War of Independence. Only this time we seek independence from the French and German Banks that hold Greek bonds at exorbitant interest rates.

In the last two days the need for a new political system and constitution became abundantly clear. Hundreds of thousands of people started gathering in the center of Athens in order to protest against the new package of austerity measures, the new loan they try to force on us. Protesters attempted to block the entrance of our 300 elected MPs to the parliament. These efforts did not persuade our representatives to stay home or even to take into consideration the wishes of their electorate. It has been estimated that 80% Greeks oppose the new measures, not because we do not want to pay for the debt but because we do not wish to lose the sovereignty of our country. Selling the most important (and highly profitable) national assets and agreeing to external political and economic supervision of our government should not have been part of the deal in the first instance. No democratic country should be reduced to this state; not least the cradle of democracy.

As if the MP’s decision to disregard the wishes of the people was not enough, the government employed 15000 riot police officers to suppress any kind of opposition. The police started a chemical war against the peaceful residents of the square (people who stayed there for more than a month). Hundreds ended up in hospitals with serious breathing problems, broken bones and bleeding heads. The police has even thrown teargas into the underground station of syntagma with dire results to the passengers of the passing trains. The presidents of the pharmaceutical association and medical association intervened asking the police to stop using chemicals, so that we do not mourn dead protesters. If you want to get an idea of what happened on the ground, please, watch the video I include here carefully.

Greeks today talk about the junta (dictatorship) – our government. There is fear in the hearts of the people and despair about the future. I would like to finish, though, with a positive note. The Greek revolution taking place these days in Athens need not end up in another totalitarian regime. It is in our hands to change the constitution by taking into consideration the decisions of the popular assemblies of the squares. An air of Direct Democracy circulated in Greece for more than a month. Direct Democracy may not be a viable political system in a modern national state but the direct participation of its citizens in political life is essential and could be achieved.

Economic historian and numismatic consultant

1 Comment

  1. Brava Constantina!

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