The first act of the Greek presidential election drama was so predictable that if it was played in an actual theater, the audience would have left yawning, asking for their money back. Even the Golden Dawn gang — who were brought from jail to vote, acting like in a field trip — were well-behaved.
In the past few days, Premier Antonis Samaras has turned the presidential election into a matter of life and death for the country. He has talked about Greece falling into the abyss, he has presented SYRIZA as the horned evil one, he has evoked Armageddon. So when the vote count stopped at 160, it was an anticlimax as big as the fiscal gap. And speaking of gaps, the gap between 160 and 180 votes seems like the aforementioned abyss Samaras used to scare independent and undecided MPs and the Greek people.
Now Samaras and company have a total of 20 MPs to persuade to vote in favor of Stavros Dimas. Of course the word “persuade” has already turned to “blackmail,” “bribe,” “promise favors” from the lips of SYRIZA chief Alexis Tsipras. Samaras tells neutral lawmakers that their vote in favor of Stavros Dimas is crucial for the future of Greece; Tsipras tells them that if they do that, they will be apostates. The words used by both are worthy of ancient Greek tragedies, with a dash of bad modern soap operas. They both try to scare the undecided, each in his own way. But all is fair in love and politics, isn’t it? Who cares if both forces send negative messages abroad that hurt the Greek economy?
For some mysterious reason, the PM appears confident that on the final ballot of December 29 he will be the one to smile. Political analysts believe he has an ace up his sleeve. Maybe Stavros Dimas, as the proverbial sacrificial lamb, will withdraw from the third act and Samaras will draw from his hat a nominee so universally acceptable that even doubting Alexis will vote in favor.
Evil minds say that in the final ballot he will get the votes of the Golden Dawn goodfellas who are jailed for criminal activities. Others say that Samaras is determined to sway independents and some MPs from ANEL and the Democratic Left and he has already secured some votes.
Confidence is in abundance on the opposite side too. Prone to premature celebrations, the SYRIZA side welcomed the ballot results as if they had already won the general elections, formed autonomous government, established socialism all over Europe and fed the world’s hungry. They already speak of people’s mandates, people in power, a government by the people and for the people, and all the slogans that include the word “people”, selectively ignoring that in the same opinion polls that give them the lead, almost 60 percent of real people don’t want snap elections. Not because they don’t want to decide for their future, but because they are tired of promises politicians never keep.
And of course they don’t care much who will be the decorative person sitting in the chair of president of the Hellenic republic.