Two days before the first round of voting for Greece’s next President and government officials piously grabbed the pews in the sacred church of power and televion pannels, turned on the alarm lights of the government vehicles and set up to a frenzy populism campaing full of dilemmas, panic and fearmongering. The catastrophology scenario script has one name and one title: Grexit! The enemy is one: left-wing SYRIZA! The target are lawmakers and voters.
The tacticts of arousing public fear over possible upcoming snap polls has one target: main oppostion SYRIZA, that leads in all public opinion polls.
Fearmongering statements revive at the end of 2014 just as it did in the parliamentary elections of May and June 2012. The Strategy of Fear is at its peak, as the coalition government most likely will fail to gather together the necessary votes to elect the next President and snap polls seem inevitable.
Strategy of Fear
Prime Minister Antonis Samaras kicked off the fear-campaign against SYRIZA with a meaningful article on Sundaday newspaper Real News.entitled “The truth, the fear and the atonement“. The PM attacked SYRIZA saying that it is the left-wing party that does fearmognering and not the coalition government parties or Nea Dimokratia.
“The is real fear! Pervasive and increasing … And it is SYRIZA that causes this fear with what is says, what it does and what it implies.”
Here I have to note that SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras was right to stress that the PM used the word “fear” 15 time sin his article…
Last week, PM Samaras triggered the free fall of Athens Stock Exchange when he attacked SYRIZA claiming that it “brings back Grexit fears.”
Finance Minister Gkikas Chardouvelis picked up Samaras’ fear thread and told Naftemboriki news paper:
“GREXIT no longer on the antennas of our European partners at the same frequency and intensity as it was in 2011 and 2012. However it could be stimulated again in case extreme anti-European voices prevail in Greece.” (Naftemporiki)
Mondy morning, government spokeswoman Sofia Voultepsi continued the tactict of fear and even spoke of a “credit event” should SYRIZA win the elections.
Voultepsi:They have warned us that if the country goes for elections, it will find itslef in credit event.” Following the statement of gov’t spokeswoman, one of the tv news magazine presenters told her: “Ok, we said we could do some fearmongering but not like that. Someone can take his money and leave.”
As Voultepsi received a bombardement of strong reactions, she later downplayed her statement on Mega TV in the usual political… “it wans’t a statement,”, I was referring to warnings of international rating companies,” I was quoting Moody’s speaking of negative credit event”… blah blah blah.
Alexis Tripras has reportedly told SYRIZA party officials that Samaras could even initiate an artificial bankrun. Speaking to the members of SYRIZA political secretariat on Monday morning, Tsipras said with reference to Pm Samaras:
“He ruthlessly undermines democracy. Samaras is able to even orchestrate a bankrun, an artificial capital flight, together with his sympathizers of entrepreneurs in order to make convincing the argument of fear.“(newmakedonias.gr)
Dialogue vs Fear
While the government tries to dismisses claims(?) that it fearmongers voters and consequently their lawmakers with a strategy of “SYRIZA terror and horror”, a report of The Guardian is quite revealing as a close aide to Samaras admits the fearmongering tacticts.
In an article Greece election: EU finance chief flies into Athens as Grexit fears mount – Leftwing leader Alexis Tsipras cries foul over ‘fearmongering and interference’ from Brussels ahead of presidential election,” the Guardian correspondent in Athens reports:
“A close aide to Samaras said the government believed it was in a “win-win” situation.
“Even if we lose [the vote for president] we will win because voters will blame Syriza for the chaos that will ensue,” he said. “And that will assure us victory in a national election.”
While the good old recipe of communicating a political message seems clear for the government front, aapparently it doesn’t seem that clear for the rest of the world, including the people, the lawmakers and the markets. Τhe government seems to forget that the people pick up “key words” and do not read or listen word by word, comma by comma when somebody speaks.
Wall Street Journal accurately assessed the current strategy of the government front. In an article entitled Greece Revisits the Panic, the WSJ points out that “Antonis Samaras wants to scare voters rather than try to persuade them, and noted among others:
“That strategy is symptomatic of the broader political failures that have brought Greece to this pass. Since 2010, Athens has reduced pensions, health-care spending and government employment, and as a result borrowing costs have fallen and the economy was showing signs of growing again. But hardly any Greek politician, including the Prime Minister, has bothered to try to persuade voters of the merits of undertaking painful reforms today in exchange for faster, sustainable growth tomorrow.”
The point of view of WSJ may be correct in the eyes of every mature and politically educated individuum. But we are in Greece, folks. Here there is no space for fruitful dialogue. Here an old-fashioned right-wing party uses tacticts of the 50’s and the 60’s with a lots of features of civil- and cold-war strategies.
Here rules the importance of key words of fear being thrown right in the middle of the heads of citizens exhausted by austerity, unemployment and overtaxation.
Theoretically, a government could use logical political and economic arguments to persuade voters. But not this government. It doesn’t have the skills and the will to do so.
And furthermore, populism by definition appeals to the hopes and fears of common people, those Greeks mostly affected by the economic crisis. And as the government cannot give “hope”, it gives “fear.”
pictured picked up somewhere on Greek internet as the fearmongering campaign does indeed inspires tech savy Greeks.
PS slowly but gradually I tend to believe that the devil bears the face features of Alexis Tsipras… BUH! Much to my surprise (and Samaras’ surprise too, I suppose) Athens Stock Exchange is doing fine on Monday with +1.78 percent.
BTW apologies for typos: autocorrect is kind of sleeping today…