Tuesday, 17.09.2013. Olympiakos vs Paris Saint Germain in football for Champions League. After the game, somewhere in the metropolitan area of Athens - Attica, at Amfiali, people start quarreling. Soon some tens of them start chasing 4. All of a sudden, a car arrives, driving opposite through a one way direction street. One of its passengers catches one of the 4 and after a fight he stabs him 3 times. The poor man died in few minutes' time, in the hands of his girlfriend, waiting for the ambulance to pick him up.

The much anticipated September

Greece entered this September being split in many pieces.

  • The Government coalition was insisting that the economy picks up, reaching a budget surplus and that in 2014 - 2015 the country will exit the crisis, entering in GDP growth.
  • The principal opposition, radical left party Syriza, was inviting people in massive demonstrations, so as to force the government to resign, presenting the continuous decline of Greek economy, the unemployment rate that surpassed 27% and other problems.
  • The Golden Dawn pro-nazi party (they call themselves nationalists) had doubled its figures in the official polls, from 7% to 15%. Some unofficial ones were suggesting that soon it was expected to exceed 20%, while it was the main receptor of public anger against the Government's policy. Its members were provoking all possible fights in and out of the Parliament, almost in daily basis, while the rumors for organized para-army teams (formed by them) were never really denied.
  • The rest of the parties (except one) were also pushing for general elections, trying to force the Government to resign.
  • All official polls were describing a situation in which the Government and Syriza would have almost equal number of votes, if only elections would have been held, but Golden Dawn was reaching close to them…

"Wait for an unexpected event, a game changer"

Having been involved in tens of political campaigns in Greece throughout the years, I have a network of thousands of friends / people I am talking to. Since June, apart from describing the reality they live in with dark colors, the majority of them had a common ground: "Don't look at the peace around you, wait for an unexpected event, a game changer".

Even the supporters of the Government were confirming that the "good news announced" were not so good, as for every Euro of surplus, the State had not paid back 3 Euro of obligations to companies and private persons (but still the progress comparing to the past is evident). They were not afraid of the radical left anymore, but the Golden Dawn, which was gathering thousands of desperate people feeling that the only hope could be found in a completely new status for Greece, out of Eurozone etc.

September started with the attempts of Syriza to initiate demonstrations and strikes that would paralyze the country, but this never happened. There were many demonstrators indeed, but soon the wave ceased. Meanwhile European Commission seemed to be very concerned regarding the rise of the pro-nazi party, suggesting that a solution should be urgently found. But it seemed so difficult for the Government to act, especially as a part of Justice and Police was accused of collaborating with them…

And then Olympiakos played against Paris Saint Germain…

A "different" unexpected event

While lots of people were expecting for something to happen so as for the Government to fall, that Tuesday night life had different plans. A proved member of Golden Dawn party killed a 34 year old rapper - know member of the radical left. Pavlos Fyssas died in the first hours of 18.09.2013, stabbed by Giorgos Roupakias. When Greeks found out that members of Golden Dawn not only provoke and beat people, but also kill other Greeks, everything changed for good. Especially when they saw proofs that this killer was in contact with high rank members of the party.

This "different" unexpected event changed the rules of the game. Suddenly the Government, through the minister of Citizens' Protection - in charge for the Police Nikos Dendias, speeded up the process and used all legal means so as to resolve the problem. He announced that he provided evidence to Justice regarding 32 (!) different criminal cases trying to prove that Golden Dawn is a crime organization.

Just 10 days after the night that a man died, Saturday morning, tens of Golden Dawn members, including its leader plus another 5 MEPs were arrested (and 2 police officers), accused of having committed or participated in a long list of crimes. Media provide all the details about the story and the updates, while the vast majority of the Greek citizens are happy and relieved.

Game changer?

So far the discussion in Greece was mainly an economic one. The endless list of new taxes to be paid and the continuous meltdown of Greek economy have pushed millions of citizens to their limits and many political parties benefited from this.

Having crashed the Golden Dawn, the Government presents itself as the defender of Democracy and tries to change the field of discussion, leaving aside the economic difficulties for the moment. There are already people warning that:

1. The Government has to be sure that it has enough evidence so as to send the arrested people to prison (the opposite would be a disaster ending to opposite results).

2. Now it should also act against the extreme - anarchist left, whose acts of violence are accused of having legitimized what Golden Dawn was doing.

Now the Government coalition may focus in the Greek Presidency of European Union, starting from January, trying to find its "weapons" for the double elections of May 2014 (local and European parliament ones). In the same time Syriza keeps on asking for general elections, but the Troika lenders have informed that this would risk the country's stability and it is highly improbable to happen..

But why this new situation is a game changer? Because…

  • As European Parliament and local elections are not decisive for the Government coalition, many people are expected to express their anger against the measures, voting against the parties of the coalition.
  • So far Golden Dawn seemed to be the main "receiver" of these people and Greece was not far from waking up next May having a pro-nazi party that would exceed 20% of votes.
  • This would de-stabilize Greece, especially if the Government would not rank first in the results.
  • Right now, having its leadership in jail and carrying the sin of a kill, Golden Dawn is expected to lose ground, in favor of other parties.
  • So Greece seems to make an important step to secure its European future, avoiding any unnecessary implications at the worst possible momentum, before the European Presidency, the double elections and its announced attempt to try to borrow money from the market again, first time since 2010.

A non - human act that changed all

Killing someone for his ideas is not a human act, no matter what these ideas are. It is unfair, difficult for any civilized person to understand and accept. It happened and now the guilty ones have to be punished, according to the law.

Let's wait to find out if this "unexpected" incident will secure Greece's pro-Europe destination. Unfortunately sometimes a tragedy is needed so as to wake up a society and explain to it the real meaning of its potential actions.