Dimitris Rapidis

What "extremity" to choose?

The governing party of New Democracy -one of the two parties of the coalition government in Greece along with PASOK- has meticulously developed a communication strategy since mid-summer that was aiming to equalize the dangers of the extreme right party Golden Dawn with the front opposition leftist party SYRIZA in the quest of maximizing its direct electorate profits through the polarization of the political system and, mainly, of the Greek society. Is this policy going to be profitable for New Democracy and increase its polling stats or it is going to be a backfire for social stability in the country?

It goes without saying that austerity politics and social unrest are a fatal mixture in Greece since 2010 and the tremendous downturn of the economy. The first political strike against the decision of the government of PASOK in 2009 to seek for foreign aid through bailout plans in order to save the country from bankruptcy and the Memoranda of Agreement with troika since 2010, that have led to massive layoffs from the private and public sector, the incessant rise of unemployment and poverty rates, the continuous increase of taxation and the spending cuts in salaries and pensions, came through the double elections of May and June 2012 that ended up with a complete polarization of the political scene and the entrance of extreme right in the Greek Parliament. The party of Golden Dawn has achieved to enter the mainstream political scene with a percentage of almost 7% that is considered to be a unprecedented breakthrough for extreme right in Greek political history. Since then, official polls are showing a stable increase of the party’s percentage which in mid-summer reached something around 11%.

In response to the continuous rise of Golden Dawn and in quest of minimizing the effect and appeal of front opposition SYRIZA in the Greek society, the communication team of PM Mr. Samaras launched the theory of the two extremes by equalizing the dangers for political destabilization from both Golden Dawn and SYRIZA. In order to analyze the mindset of this theory, it is important to split it into two parts and focus on both the political / strategic approach and the ethical approach.

From a political / strategic approach, the decision to initiate the theory of the two extremes can be characterized as politically permissible or tolerable per se, as the major scope is to maximize the electorate profits for the party. In a strongly polarized Greek society, this strategy could bring some efficient results that, aligned with a certain propaganda from the press team and the proxy medias of the government, could give a significant breath in the hard semester that follows. Such strategies and propagandas are familiar in modern political history, especially in pre-election campaigns, with the parties that decide to act relevantly to finally strengthen and coil up electorate leakage absorbed by other political parties.

From an ethical perspective, we need to point out that such a theory might strongly entail significant perils when it comes to count for social stability. In a society which is deeply affected by austerity politics and recession, the equalization of the major oppositional parties of Golden Dawn and SYRIZA as “extremities” and dangerous for the democracy and social stability is considered as scarcely justified. In the eyes of the public such an equation can be misleading and destructive, let alone the fact that it weakens the legitimate political debate and the real drawbacks of a certain governmental policy. And here is when democracy and absolutism are starting to get blurred and barely discernible.

Furthermore, we need to stress out that this theory can be equally englobed in a wider circle of acts of distraction that the government is initiating in order to save political time and smooth social unrest stirred by the introduction of additional measures that the Greek government might be possibly obliged to take following the conclusion of negotiations with troika regarding the performance of the Greek economy. In this respect, it goes without saying that as long as the Greek economic policy and performance show no signs of improvement, we might see the same play again and again.

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