The sense of malaise often generates political surprises. And it always plays into the hands of the enemies of democracy.
A lot of things are happening in Europe and specifically in Greece at the moment which urges citizens to discredit politics and question the integrity of institutions.
QatarGate, the revelations surrounding the charity for disadvantaged children Kivotos you Kosmou (Ark of the World), the wiretapping scandal and the exchange of allegations between parties are not interconnected affairs. However, they foment a sick atmosphere.
People do not know what, or in what, to believe.
This mood is evident in public surveys among Greece’s young people. Apart from the cliches about the traditionally “angry youth,” the polls capture a wave of justified indignation.
The Brussels corruption scandal has pleased and strengthened the enemies of the West, of Europe and of democracy. The European integration project has never really earned people’s trust; nor has it been a very popular one. On the contrary, the average European citizen has viewed it as an elite project.
It is now certain to deepen the disillusionment and reduce people’s participation in the public affairs of the Union. But that’s the least of it.
The worst thing is people like Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban and the leaders of authoritarian regimes who find the opportunity to stick out their tongues and say, “Is this democracy, the values you wanted?”
We are at a crossroads. Western democracies are being tested. They have withstood former US president Donald Trump and the economic crises but are being strongly questioned.
The fear is obvious.
That political forces which detest democracy and Western values will be significantly strengthened.
This risk should also concern us in Greece. Anyone who does not live in a bubble feels the danger, sees the risk of a repeat of 2012, when the political system was shaken to its foundations without anyone having noticed it before.
There are no easy solutions.
Obviously closing the gap between the haves and have-nots is vital. Inequalities cannot be tolerated.
But equally important is that the ruling class, in Greece and the European Union, respects basic rules and principles. Because nothing strengthens anti-systemic forces more than the actual system when it rots.