The Ministry of Labor and Social Insurance bombarded the media with information on how the pension cuts will be applied, and now, a few days before the payment of pensions and 15 days before the elections, the ministry faces a “problem” in the system of IDIKA (the Electronic Government – Social Security System), so the new cuts in the main and supplementary pensions will be postponed after the elections.
No matter how hard governmental officials argue that this is due to a computer failure, anyone who is familiar with the Greek political culture understands that the government simply didn’t want to butcher pensions ten days before the elections as pensioners would likely be frustrated and angry and probably vote for smaller parties.
It became known that cuts set by memorandum number 2 would be postponed by one month, and unionists made fun of the government’s excuse of a “computer problem,” saying that the government didn’t seem to have a problem to apply the cuts based on memorandum number 1.
“Why now all of a sudden? Right before the elections, it’s weird isn’t it? The preparations for the specific measure had already been done since March!,” said a unionist from inside the Ministry.
To someone who isn’t familiar with Greek politics, this trick seems stupid. Since pensions will be cut anyway, what’s the big deal? Not even a five-year old would buy this trick. Yet those who have lived in Greece long enough know that the Greek political system has used similar tricks numerous times and they always seem to work. Sad, but true.
The Greek pensioners are the same people, who for the past 35 years, have been voting for PASOK and ND. It is the same people who were hired in the already over-bloated public sector based on “rousfeti” (Turkish word for reciprocal dispensation of favors). The same perfectly healthy people who, for more than 30 years, received tens of thousands of disability benefits; the same people who used the EU subsidies for non-existent cultivations.
“Keep Grandpas and Grandmas That Vote For PASOK and ND Locked Up On the 6th of May”
The incident of the pension cuts and the “computer problem” is just an indication of how deep nepotism, patronage and clan loyalties are rooted in Greek society.
Greece faces a deep political and social crisis. Given this crisis has been created by most Greeks, politicians and society alike, it will take more than a restructuring to fix. Political culture doesn’t change overnight. PASOK and ND have taken turns at governing Greece for the greater part of half a century. The majority of state workers were employed by these two parties and it is the same workers who have favors to return; it is the same people who invented the “computer problem” ten days before the election.
Greek youth are angry at their parents’ generation, as they hold it responsible for the tragedy they are experiencing. A satirical political poster has flooded the Internet, encouraging young people to prevent the elderly from voting in the upcoming national elections. There is even a facebook group called “Keep the grandmothers and grandfathers who vote for PASOK and New Democracy locked up on the 6th of May.”
For young Greeks, Antonis Samaras and Evangelos Venizelos don’t only represent the continuation of a corrupted political system, they also represent a mentality that must end in order for the new generation to have hope and prosper.