The Greek Parliamentary Elections of 2009; a mirror-image of the present “Political Culture”* of the country. (Part A)

Before examining the various socio-political dimensions which derive from the whole political setting of the Greek Parliamentary Elections of October 2009, I would like to refer to a modern political term which is used at times to record “empirically” and “schematically” those socio-political components which reflect the “political psyche” and “trends” of a society or a country. This modern political term is “political culture”. First of all, we have to mention that the term “polical culture” was created by American political scientists such as Lucian Pye,Sidney Verba and Gabriel Almond during the 1950s, when the United States of America was the most powerful “capitalist” country by “leaps and bounds”,with spheres of “economic”,”political” and “military” influence in Europe, Asia,the Middle East,Africa and South America.

The analytical structure of this particular political term(political culture) is very loose theoretically and not so very scientific empirically and schematically(terminology),excluding the political component of “political ideology” for obvious but non-objective reasons.These “outstanding” American political scientists were searching “theoretically” and “scientifically” those social components which could project as “the ideal political system” that of the United States.This “ideal political system” which the United States of America embodied,would become the social model for American Political Globalization internationally, brushing aside the ideological differences between a “liberal” and “competitive” expansionist capitalism where “big capital” controls the political Developments of a country and a “socialist revolutionary policy” which “theoretically” supports the social, economic and political self-sufficiency of all citizens, nations and countries. For example the American political scientist Sydney Verba, defines the term “political culture” as “…the sum of the fundamental values, sentiments and knowledge that give form and substance to political process…”(p.1.

Even though there are empirical, theoretical and scientific weaknesses with the components which define and register the socio-political attributes of the various types of “political cultures” which exist today in the different countries and societies, in our case, which is the description and analysis of the “virtual reality” of the Greek Parliamentary Elections of 2009,they are ideal because they involve more the everyday values,the everyday expectations, the everyday feelings, the everyday knowhow and the everyday aesthetics of the “average” Greek citizen and less the “political conscience, the “political ideology” or the institutionalized “political validation” of that citizen. I could analyse in detail the reasons for the early Parliamentary Elections, the various pre-election political programmes of the main political parties and the pre-election political disputes among those parties, but for me personally, this would be a “waste of my time” and “precious thinking”;that is why I will focus my attention on the night of election day, Sunday the 4th of October,2009.Through this entire “virtual political setting”, I will draw the vital political conclusions with respect to the “real political culture” of Modern Greek Society. It is Sunday, the 4th of October 2009,the official date for the Greek Parliamentary Elections.It is a “sacred day” when all Greek Citizens ,young and old, men and women, go to the ballot-boxes to exercise their “sacred” democratic right to vote for a government which will “represent” them and will be “worthy” of them as a “politicized peoples”. Around 9:30 at night ,I opened my television set to get “a first taste” of the first results of the elections, since all the polling stations had closed and the first statistics from “exit polls” were being communicated. For over a month, all the various polls which had been undertaken by “independent” gallop organizations, showed that the Greek Socialist Party of PASOK was first with a difference of at least 9 percentage points from the ruling conservative New Democracy Party. As I opened my television set around 9:30 at night, I decided to zap in at all the major private T.V. stations, as well as at the 3 state-controlled T.V. stations. It has been quite a few years now since I have not been a “fanatic” follower of political developments in my country as well as major political developments in other countries, except if there is a “critical” war occurring at some part of the globe. Irrespective of this one-sided attitude, I still have the “political sensitivity” to be an “astute observer” of National Elections, whether these take place in my own country or in a powerful foreign country, since they represent a kind of “measuring rod” of the priorities and expectations of every peoples and of every society.

Nonetheless, during the night of the Greek Parliamentary Elections of October 4th 2009,I immediately noticed that there were some “unnatural” and at the same time “terrifying” signs which I had never witnessed in the past, whether it involved elections in my own country, elections in countries I had resided for long periods of time, or elections taking place in powerful “democratic” countries such as the United States, Russia, Great Britain, Japan, France, etc. Some of these “unnatural” and “terrifying” socio-political “signs of our times” were the following. First of all, when I opened my T.V. set and started to “zap in ” at the different T.V. channels which were broadcasting the election results and every parameter related to them, I ascertained that all these T.V. stations, whether private or state-owned, projected to their audiences exactly the same image and content. One had the impression that reporters, political analysts, professional gallop statisticians, even the many politicians who expressed the political position of their respective parties, whether in interviews or in T.V. discussion panels, were all following a “common theatrical script” with prescribed “theatrical roles” which they had to execute “to the letter” without any deviations. In every T.V. channel, all the T.V. presenters who coordinated the T.V. programmes on the elections, verbalized the same words in a subdued tone, constantly avoiding any serious queries concerning the election results and the immediate political implications on the state of the country. Second,during the various T.V. interviews and discussions during the night of the elections, professional political analysts(professors, political scientists, former politicians) as well as professional gallop statisticians, refrained from making any “in depth” political analysis, as if “in fear” that any of their political verbal interventions would create doubts concerning the institutional integrity of the whole electoral process and of course of the election results. Finally, the large number of “active politicians” who participated in the political programmes of the many T.V. stations, whether private or state-owned, in interviews or in political panels, did not express in a “forceful” and “dialectic” way their personal “ideological” and “political” positions and oppositions. This “political phenomenon” created the image that all these “active politicians” did not belong to different political camps, but to a single political “set-up” which would govern in unison the country through political consensus and common understanding.

All these active political functionaries representing Greece’s political parties which “in theory” cover the whole “ideological political spectrum”, from the far right to the far left,behaved as if they all belonged to the same “masonic lodge”,whose philosophy is the economic, political and cultural manipulation and exploitation of the Greek Peoples. This “startling discovery” became even more obvious through two additional personal political observations. The first observation related to the fact that even though from very early on, it was crystal clear that PASOK (the main opposition Socialist Party) would win the elections by a “wide margin” from the ruling conservative New Democracy Party, and that it would also have the absolute majority in the Greek Parliament, the political representatives of PASOK in the various T.V. programmes seemed very reserved instead of enthousiastic (taking into account the Greek temperament) for this enormous election success, while the political representatives of the ruling party which was trailing behind by 10 percentage points ,looked quite calm and even somewhat “relieved”. They had all been convinced to accept the “political theatrical script” which had been written “outside the country”, and it was “indispensable” that every “active politician” should play his or her “prescribed theatrical role” to the letter, whether they liked it or whether they liked it less!!!! The second “personal political observation” which convinced me that all these different socio-political actors, like the politicians, the reporters, the owners of private T.V. stations, the state officials, the political scientists and the professional gallop statisticians, in “essence” belonged to the same “masonic lodge”, was the simple “statistical information” which should have been provided by the Ministry of the Interior after the polling stations had closed. This statistical information is the percentage of “eligible voters” who did not vote that day, or the percentage of abstention in relation to the total Electorate. In the past, in all Greek National Elections, whether they were Greek Parliamentary Elections, European Parliamentary Elections or Greek Municipal Elections, after the ballot-boxes had closed, there were evaluations and descriptions on T.V. and radio stations concerning the estimates of abstention by the Electorate, and according to these estimates, each political commentator provided his or her assessment and explanation. During that night of the elections, on October 4th 2009, there was absolutely no mention on any T.V. station, whether private or state-owned, of the percentage of the Electorate who did not vote. After about an hour of watching the various T.V. stations( around 10:30 to 11:00 o’clock at night), I started to become very suspicious of the fact that no “statistical data” was being communicated concerning the percentage of Electorate Abstention, even though all other statistical information was readily available by the statistical services of the Ministry of the Interior. Becoming aware that something was “not quite right” with this whole affair, I started to make phone calls to the offices of the T.V. stations, private and state-owned, and the responses from the people responsible there were very luke-warm and hazy; all of them explaining that they did not know accurately this statistical information and therefore they could not transmit this fact.

The following day , after reading some of the morning newspapers, I discovered that the number of eligible voters who had not voted was 30% of the Electorate, the highest number of Abstention by far than any other previous Greek Parliamentary Election. Is it possible that this high percentage of Abstention reflected a “powerful popular sentiment” questioning the institutional political viability of Greece’s Parliamentary Elections to produce an effective social, economic, political and cultural development for the whole of the Greek Society??? As a consequence, it was “logical” that the amount of Electorate Abstention should not have been immediately and publicly discussed “in depth”, because this would have undermined and weakened the institutional image of the social, economic, political and cultural “establishment” of the country. In the second part of our article related to the Greek Parliamentary Elections of 2009, we shall examine how these particular National Elections are the mirror-image of the critical weaknesses, degradations and distortions which exist in the components which make up “the real” and not “the virtual” Political Culture of Today’s Greek Society.

* political culture-the sum of the fundamental values, sentiments and knowledge that give form and substance to political process