Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras must awake each morning and say it really is good to be king. The King, after all, not only is above the law, he sets the law, and in the plutocratic oligarchy that is Greece, he can allow institutions such as courts to give people the belief they are in a democracy until he orders his lackeys in Parliament to vote the way he believes.
The King’s Way is the only way.
People go on strike because they haven’t been paid in six months at the same time workers in Parliament are exempt from austerity measures? Issue a civil mobilization order and send in the cops. No need for a court order when you are the court.
People even thinking of striking to assert their rights when their pay is being cut, taxes raised, pensions slashed while politicians, the rich and tax cheats escape with impunity? Issue a civil mobilization order and send in the cops.
Nothing like the threat of going to jail or taking a beating from the police to make someone go back to work or keep working. Too bad Samaras doesn’t issue a civil mobilization order to make his own deadwood Cabinet of recycled, retread politicians work, or send in the cops to force clerks who won’t wait on people to get off their butts, stop smoking, go to the counter and provide some service.
Every day, the Man Who Would Be King of Greece (who said the monarchy had been abolished?) and holds office despite being rejected by a majority of voters – he got 30 percent of the vote which means 70 percent didn’t want him – finds he can exercise even more powers and do what he wants without consulting Parliament. In the United States, U.S. President Barack Obama – a Democrat – reaches across the aisle to inform Republicans of critical decisions that affect them and the country.
If Obama didn’t agree with the U.S. Supreme Court ruling striking down the Defense of Marriage Act, which paved the way for more gay rights and refused to have it enforced, he’d be impeached before you could say King Samaras.
In Greece, political leaders obey only court rulings they agree with. Samaras has ignored an order from the country’s highest court, the Council of State, to restore the signal of the national broadcaster ERT, which he shut down on June 11 by ministerial decree to avoid debate.
Kings don’t need the rule of law when they have decrees. Wait until he discovers he can issue fiats. Pressured by international lenders to finally fire a single public worker among the hundreds of thousands hired over the years by his New Democracy Capitalists and the PASOK Anti-Socialists who now share power with him, Samaras fired all 2,656 ERT workers.
A CAST OF THOUSANDS
True, many could be in the cast of extras as zombies in The Walking Dead because they are unqualified or are political hires who get paychecks without having to show up, creating a real lack of empathy for the dismissals.
But there were genuine professionals in the midst and while the court said he had the right to close ERT until he could get a replacement station called NERIT up and running, the leader of a country can’t cherry pick what rulings he will obey. Unless he’s King, of course.
Samaras is going along with restructuring ERT, pointing out the court gave him that right. He is defying the decision to restore the signal – part of the same ruling – because he doesn’t like it and it doesn’t matter because the King sets the law and who’s going to arrest him?
In the meantime, ERT remains dark until NERIT gets going with 1000-1200 workers from the former staff. If you think the replacements won’t be picked for party loyalties and won’t include more of the same political hacks New Democracy (as Samaras admitted) and PASOK put there, you think the Holocaust didn’t happen either, which means you could join Golden Dawn.
In Greece, the laws are only those the King likes. Greek law allegedly allows 18 months of detention before a suspect must be tried, up to 30 months in exceptional circumstances, those being what the King decides.
Mr. Law and Order Samaras likes applying the law to show he’s decisive and tough, although that doesn’t apply to tax cheats like fashion designer Lakis Gavalas, convicted of evading 17 million euros, some $22.34 million, in taxes and who went home scot-free after 18 months in detention because he turned over some of his property instead of spending some more years in jail. Sounds like exceptional circumstances.
I FOUGHT THE LAW AND THE LAW WON
Kostas Sakkas, a terrorist suspect – the key word here being suspect, as in tax cheat suspect or political bribery suspect – has been on a hunger strike since June 4 because his 30 months of being held without charges came and went and he was kept in jail as the government ignored the law the same way it ignores the courts.
Nobody paid much attention when the major opposition party Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) which harbors anarchists in its midst, decried the government breaking its own laws and denouncing the detention as unconstitutional – which it is and that’s fact, not opinion – and said Sakkas was a victim of “judicial arbitrariness” and a breach of human rights.
New Democracy (Samaras) issued a decree, um fiat – make that press release – that SYRIZA “should forget the lessons in democracy and its instructions to the judiciary on how to protect terrorism suspects.”
The key word here being suspect, because not only has Sakkas not been convicted, he’s not even been charged, and even if you’re to the right of Samaras (which would make you Attila the Hun) you have to respect the rule of law. Otherwise, when you get picked up for spitting on the sidewalk and the government decides to hold you in jail for three years because they don’t like your politics you can’t go screaming foul.
If Sakkas is tried and convicted he should suffer the full penalty of law, but why have a trial? The King can just order a conviction or pressure the court to keep the guy locked up and throw away the key.
There’s some dissent in the government. The party of PASOK Major Opportunist leader Evangelos Venizelos, who threw his members and principles under the bus to join Samaras’ government as Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, doesn’t agree with the King keeping Sakkas locked up. The law applies to everyone, or it applies to no one.
A LEFT HOOK
PASOK’s spokesman for issues of justice and citizens’ protection, Costas Triantafyllos, said that Sakkas’ detention on the mere suspicion of being a member of the Conspiracy of the Cells of Fire urban guerrilla group had created “justified concern among the country’s legal circles and among human rights groups in Greece and Europe,” which Greece doesn’t recognize.
Venizelos didn’t say boo because he knows who supplies his caviar but this is what happens when you have a two-headed monster government.
Sakkas admits he’s an anarchist but denies he’s a terrorist, and until it’s proven otherwise – or at least he’s charged – he can’t be kept jailed forever just because, as the old story goes about a crowd about to hang a man in the old West only to be told there’s no proof, someone shouts, “Hell! We all know he did it!” In this case, no one knows anything because no case has been presented.
Meantime, Sakkas is going the Bobby Sands route, the IRA hunger striker who died for his beliefs. Doctors say Sakkas is losing weight faster than Samaras is shedding credibility as a believer in law and order because he believes in order but not law, unless he agrees with it.
If Sakkas isn’t charged – or released as the alleged law stipulates – and starves himself to death maybe Samaras can just declare he’s still alive, although that may be beyond even the powers of a king.