ERT shutdown: Greeks say “This is junta!”

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“This is junta!” Giorgos’ comment is very clear when I ask him what does he think of ERT’s shutdown. “An overnight decision that brings totally upside down. That’s the very point: the citizen does not know what will happen to him, from one day to the next.” Giorgos, 30,  is jobless since one year. He still tries to get his outstanding salaries from his former employer: a total of 4,000 euro. He tries to set up a small, his own business but he feels depressed from the set backs. “You know what? You make your plans for the very near future and a government decision smash your dreams. There can be no confidence. Today they close down the public broadcaster. Tomorrow they can close down your business. With only one decision, the signature of a single minister.”

“This is like the junta’s we decide and order”, said Maria 60, pointing to the announcements of the Greek colonels who used to make public their decisions with the standard phase “We decide and order, that…”.

“They want to destroy us, to crash us and they put us under psychological pressure every once in a while,” Maria adds raising her voice in outrage. “Today ERT, tomorrow somebody else, next month maybe me, my home, my family. When they break such taboos like shutting down the public broadcaster overnight, who will protect me as a single citizen? ”

Although Maria could be Giorgos’ mother in terms of age, they both share the same fear: that the citizen is totally unprotected towards the arbitration of the government. A view shared also by Eleni, 45:

“If they use this totalitarian policy towards their own people…HA! can you imagine what will happen with the average citizen who has not connections to nomenclatura? Masses of people can lose their jobs overnight, because an idiot decides so.”

ERT junta

ERT employees’ banner: “Down with Junta. ERT does not shut down!”

Giorgos, Maria, Eleni  agree that the hydrocephalus public broadcaster ERT with several radio & TV channels and 2,656 employees  had to be reformed. To be cleaned from a number of people on the payroll who never performed any work.had

It was not a secret that the public broadcaster was turned into a state company, where every government exploited it in order to spread its own propaganda and find a job for its own people. this situation was tolerated by the ERT unionists for many years.

Everybody here knew that ERT was mutated into a state-employer pool for children of  party officials, party affiliated journalists or not, and aspiring lawmakers who failed to secure a place in the parliament during elections. A job as ‘adviser’ could bring a gross salary of 3,500 euro per month. Hiring last summer, while the country was already in the bailout program.  A daily program presenter with or without talent would earn also 3,500 euro gross just because she happened to be the daughter of…

A reform was urgently needed. But the problem is not the ERT … it’s a problem of democracy and democratic procedures.

“Nice parliamentary democracy we have here, nice coalition government,” said Nikos, 40, laughing. “Samaras takes a decision alone, Kedikoglou [government spokesman & minister in charge of the media & ERT] announces at noon that ERT will be shut down at midnight.  Just like that. Even in worst dictatorships these things do not happen. I wonder, why we go to cast votes in elections. They think, we are animals?”

Quite some Greeks wonder, what exactly Samaras wanted to achieve with the sudden ERT shut down: to fill bailout program targets, like that it had to lay-off 2,000 civil servants in May but it failed to do so.  The Troika demanded results in June. ERT seemed to be an easy target with 2,656 lay-offs in one stroke. BINGO! June target of lay-0ffs achieved on a Tuesday.

Others try to find out what exactly Samaras is doing: risking his coalition government and push for early elections in order to refresh the public order to him to govern the country? Is he surrounded by dilettante advisers who give him fatal hints?

But many try to find a word to describe the new style of governance we are exposed to. Can we call it post-democracy? Meta-democracy, maybe? Or just a Troikracy? I think, the last proposal is the most appropriate…

*Names have been changed.

**Troicracy = Troika+-cratos