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Sunday, October 5, 2014

President Kostas Simitis? Or Perhaps Kostas Karamanlis? Or Even Lucas Papadimos?

"Over the next years Greece will need a political President, with a deep understanding of the country's problems, who will have managed state affairs at the highest level and will be in the position to converse abroad and to demand the respect of political leaders. Based on all of the above, three candidates for the position of President could be Kostas Simitis, Kostas Karamanlis and Lucas Papadimos. In the present circumstances in Greece, there is no room for mediocrities and indifferent non-political figures" --- Antonis Karakousis in To Vima.

As a foreigner observing Greece, I often receive comments that I really don't understand Greece and the Greeks. True. Sometimes, I, indeed, do not understand Greeks. Mr. Karakousis is a case in point with his article in To Vima.

I cannot pass judgement on the governing period of Mr. Simitis but I have read enough comments about Mr. Simitis to know that he is among those who are being blamed a lot for today's misery. Mr. Karamanlis's government certainly stood watch when Greece, financially, completely went overboard. And, finally, Mr. Papadimos did a terrific job from the standpoint of Greece's creditors but from the standpoint of those Greeks who are suffering, he might be seen as a culprit.

True, all three gentlemen have "managed state affairs at the highest level and would be in a position to converse abroad and to demand the respect of political leaders" but my sense is that either of the three would quickly fill Syntagma Square with protesters. But then again, I don't understand Greece and the Greeks...

11 comments:

  1. Greece doesn't need any kind of President because the President doesn't have any real powers. He used to, but the constitution was amended and they removed them from him. Thus it's irrelevant what President Greece has. They may as well elect a clown because that's how much the position matters.

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    1. This is the best kind of president to have, and it is the same kind as in England, Canada, Australia, New Zealand etc: where a non-political head of state represents the whole country instead of political interests. Technically this is called parliamentary democracy as opposed to a presidential democracy. The latter is less democratic and responsive. Except when 50 seat bonuses intervene. Put in place in Greece in 2005,

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    2. I should add that the parliamentary democracies of Germany and Austria also have a President who has essentially zero powers (in Germany elected by the parliament; in Austria by a national vote). If they only appear to involve themselves in day-to-day politics, they get clobbered by the political establishment (and the media). Their functions are of a representative nature only.

      I should also add that in both countries, there are recurring debates about the abolishment of the office of the president.

      Personally, I strongly think that it is good for a society to have something like a ‘moral authority’ who conveys to society from time to time something like a ‘moral mirror’ or a ‘moral compass’. The only difficulty is to find such people.

      Austria once had the epitome of such a president: Rudolf Kirchschläger from 1974-86. A career diplomat; impeccable demeanor; extremely modest, shy in appearance, always speaking with a bit of a broken voice; etc. But when he spoke, every word carried weight (because he chose them so well). Here is just one example.

      Back in 1980, Austria’s political establishment was rocked by a phenomenal public sector scandal which Kirchschläger commented on. He did so in his opening speech at a fair for agricultural machines where he said: “Maybe my words will sound a bit old fashioned to some but my life experience suggests that swamp weeds can grow unnoticed only in a swamp. Let us, therefore, begin with the draining of the swamps everywhere and, since we are at an agricultural fair, let us add the sour pastures as well”.

      Those simple words have reverberated in Austrian society to this very day. Did they change a lot? I am sure they had an influence. A ‘moral compass’ (like the Ten Commandments) is never there so that it is always 100% adhered to. It is there so that people know how far they deviate from it when they deviate. And moral authorities can always encourage society to adhere to a ‘moral compass’ as well as they can. Provided that they are the right moral authorities…

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    3. Dear Sir,

      I am Greek and indeed at first thought, a position without any formal powers is a redundant position. This as a first thought. And although i could agree with my compatriates that such a redundant position should be abolished and use the funds for a better cause in these economical difficult times but here is where i beg to differ.

      As your example stated above there is a need for a "moral or ethical" leader above all who is untied from the system to have a untainted opinion for self serving purposes. Even though the president has no true actionable power, hence seen as no power, actually is absolute power. It is an absolute power because he has, if he or she chooses, to say things as they are. And that is necessary for society to hear once in a while rather than to think or figure out what the alterior motive is behind ones sayings.

      We had a great preseident as your Austrian president and his name was Kostadinos Stefanopoulos. 1995 - 2005. I have not follow his carrer prior but as a president he had the ability to give life to his words. Many speeches he gave nearly brought me to tears.

      It is this type of leader that is absolutely necessary for society. It is such types of presidents who's words are like the great leaders of the past. Only difference is such presidents have no actionable power. Although the have the power to enlighten, give you courage and bring moral and ethics to the general public.

      That is if we can find such a leader again. Otherwise we have a presidencial leader as the current. Just plain toast.

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  2. You're right my friend. I'm Greek and I'm telling you that all three of them should have been behind bars years ago! I'm saying this and I'm not a communist! Nowadays the situation for the great majority of the population is so tragic that it's amazing the simple fact that there are discussions about elections instead of executions! It's willful misconduct, misappropriation of funds and HIGH TREASON all three have committed. Then again, I don't understand Greeks either!

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  3. Jim Slip is absolutely right! I often wonder what keeps our President busy during a day. I suppose he is extremely bored!

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  4. Mr. Kastner, as Jim Slip said, the president in Greece, is purely decorative. The journalist is simply putting a sauce to embellish this ugly truth and well... since To Vima doesn't support SYRIZA, it's hoping for a president that could be put as candidate from one of the goverment parties. No need to confuse the opinion of Karakousis with the opinion of Greeks on the matter. Everyone has an opinion, Karakousis has this one, he is also paid to write in Vima, the days are hard for journalists nowdays...

    You could have Silvester Stallone voted for president and it would be completely inconsequential for the greek politics. The president is just there to have tea and sympathy with foreign politicians.

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  5. And to make it a bit more clear to you, since you are foreigner and you aren't accustomed to read behind the lines. Karakousis is the new editor. The newspaper belongs to Lambrakis Group. This was the backbone of the media support to PASOK for 30 years. Do you expect them to be against Simitis??? As for Karamanlis, well, he is from ND, the son of the current president is now MP with New Democracy, so where's the mystery if Karakousis likes Karamanlis? As for Papademos, the bankers like him and is a natural candidate for "neutral" candidacy, since he doesn't belong to a party.

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    1. Bravo sou. Perfect description.

      Appointing any of the 3 is out of the question, but he is paid to try.

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  6. Mr. Kastner, you should be rooting for Papademos.

    "In retrospect, one has to give a lot of credit to PM Papademos. He knew that he needed the best advice; he asked for it; he chose the renowned laywer Lee Buchheit and he smoothly accomplished the largest private sector involvement which the world has ever seen. Hats off!"

    http://klauskastner.blogspot.it/2014/02/greeces-1st-bail-out-promises-promises.html

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    1. As I said above: "Papademos did a terrific job from the standpoint of Greece's creditors". Frankly, the way my mind ticks, I would have preferred for Papademos to stay on at the time and I guess he would make a good President. But I know that my mind ticks differently from the minds of Greeks.

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