Thousands of Splayed Hands of "Indignant Greeks" Target the Parliament

05/31/2011 06:02 pm ET | Updated Jul 31, 2011

Thousands of indignant Greek people, surrounding all these days the heart of Athens and many other cities in Greece, have combined their voices with millions of other citizens of European countries who are protesting throughout Europe against the current economic meltdown, the increasing unemployment and the bad prospects for their future. But in their case, the Greek people are protesting for one more additional reason, much deeper and stronger than simply the harsh governmental austerity measures.

These unprecedentedly massive and peaceful demonstrations signify the commencement of a fight by the Greeks against the current domestic political status quo which has governed Greece for more than three decades after the establishment of modern Democracy in the country. The images of thousands of citizens, both young and old, presenting their splayed hands towards the Greek Parliament (a very rude gesture in Greece) says something very important about what these people expect from both the politicians and the political parties. They are cynically sending the message that they don't expect anything anymore from them. Greeks know well that the country's politicians are unable to drive Greece out of the crisis by reforming the economy, forcing the wealthiest into paying their taxes and imprisoning those who have misappropriated the public money. And that is because people consider the current parliamentary system as part of the corruption that has brought Greece, nowadays, steps before the risk of bankruptcy.

These social reactions have another unique element which differentiates them by any other previous domestic demonstrations. People, all these days flooding the streets throughout Greece, have formed a coherent coalition within which political ideologies and partisanship do not have any place. They are demanding that those who brought about the crisis should pay for it. And that is a reasonable demand. But this is not self-evident for the Greek government which has burdened hundreds of thousands of people, who in the end are not responsible, with the cost of this crisis. But, now, they are called to sacrifice their wages, pensions or, even their jobs while at the same time being aware that the people responsible for this situation will remain unpunished having secured their non-taxed money in banks accounts abroad.

At the same time, there exists an inefficient government which is persisting on an economic policy which raises taxes, suffocates growth, and shrinks the purchasing power of the people. And at the same time, a policy that does not reduce sufficiently public expenses, is unable to create resources other than taxes to increase public revenues and to vigorously combat the expanded tax evasion coming from the wealthiest. The emerging social reactions from independent Greek people, not supported by parties and partisan ideologies, are indicative of their national indignation for the fact that, on one hand, this political system brought the country into the current crisis and, on the other hand, this same system has proved incapable, unreliable and inefficient to break this deadlock. The point is that Greeks want to get rescued but they do not have anyone to rescue them at this moment. And their stance is a cry of agony for the future of themselves and their children.

Greeks are a people that have probably made a lot of mistakes over the last three and more decades. Maybe the biggest one of them was that they had entrusted -- more than they should have -- their hopes to their politicians. They had become addicted to hearing from their politicians only pleasant political words. They had learnt only to take from the state and not to give anything back to it. They were not used to accepting difficult decisions and they had been persuaded that a social policy happens when a government spends more money than it produces. Now the lies have finished and the myths, built during the previous decades, have collapsed.

Greeks are demolishing day by day the edifice of a failed political system. No one knows what comes next. But until it comes, the political personnel of this country must open its ears to hear what these people are saying. To be honest, I am not sure whether the protesters have any realistic proposal for the exit of Greece from the crisis. But they call for a change. Not just for simple governmental change but for a really deep and fundamental political change. And this political change in personnel and behavior would be, actually, a necessary step that Greece should make.