The reaction to the Council of State decision that the television licensing bill was unconstitutional, exposed the Greek government’s total disrespect for democratic institutions. State Minister Nikos Pappas, who drafted the bill after arbitrarily assuming the authority to grant broadcasting licenses and shut down television stations, stated that ” the Council of State decision spawned an injustice” and that “the judges will be judged too.”
Furthermore, the vicious attack against the judges of the highest administrative court by government officials and SYRIZA-friendly media show that the leftist government is willing to use all means in order to control mass media and the justice system and establish something that looks like an authoritarian regime.
It should be noted here, that one of the first things that Alexis Tsipras did when he was elected for the second time in September 2015 was to appoint Nikos Sakellariou as President of the Council of State. He also placed his own people as chairmen of independent authorities and other public agencies such as security funds and public utility companies. Sakellariou had sided with the government on the issue of TV licensing saying that the “Council of State listens to the pulse of the people,” adding to another insane government argument that “people elected us to put an end in the anomy existing in the television field”(!). How likely is it that Greeks, who get poorer every day after the new tax raid, care if the TV stations they watch operate with a temporary license?
The arguments against Wednesday’s court rule were laughable, if not downright insulting to anyone’s intelligence. Government spokesperson Olga Gerovasili appeared on camera as if coming out of a crying fit and accused the judges of “bringing back anomy in the broadcasting field,” “having ruled as constitutional the memoranda (with creditors) that destroyed the country,” “wanting to perpetuate corruption in the media field,” or “hindering the government’s effort to bring order in the media field.”
The funniest of all though was the accusation that the judges with their decision “prohibit 15,000 children from going to daycare centers and the hiring of 4,000 nurses in public hospitals,” and that the money received from the auction so far would have to be returned to “four very rich businessmen” who got the four licenses.
One of the arguments of the Tsipras administration for the controversial television license tender was that the money received from the auction would go to welfare programs such as hiring nurses for public hospitals and placing children in day care centers. This probably explains what looked like tears in Gerovasili’s eyes when she made the statement.
Yet, the sad tone in her cracking voice was like that of a spoiled child that stole another child’s toy and is preparing for revenge after the other child took it back. There was a lot of bile underneath the facade of the caring person. Unfortunately, all government officials acted just like that appearing in the media. Like spoiled brats who believe they were wronged when in fact they were wrong themselves.
The truth is that the money would never go to welfare programs or for hiring nurses. The money received as a deposit for the four new licensees are nowhere in the budget. That was a lie to sprinkle some sugar to the illogical argument about the whole broadcasting licensing issue. That the good leftist guys will take money from the rich businessmen and give it to the poor. Acting like Robin Hood and his merry men. But not like a western democratic government.
Even if indeed that money went to welfare, wouldn’t it be sad that a government cannot afford to hire nurses for public hospitals or send children of poor families to daycare? Especially a leftist one that pretends to care so much for the people?
SYRIZA bully Pavlos Polakis — who when not spewing hateful comments against everybody who’s not a SYRIZA voter on Facebook acts as deputy health minister — called the Council of State decision “a judicial coup” against the people and the judges “protectors of the corrupt,” called television stations “cesspits,” and at the end he wrote: “We are at war, and the Left knows how to fight wars.”
SYRIZA MPs appeared on television stations the morning after the court’s decision — the same stations they refer to as “cesspits” when they are not guests — and criticized the decision along the same lines. The party line is that the Council of State rule was a “political decision,” refusing to accept it, even though they say they will comply. Even House Speaker Nikos Voutsis — an otherwise moderate politician who is careful with his comments — proved to be a sore loser and commented that the Council of State decision was “against the public interest” because it perpetuates anomy in the media field. Despite the radio host’s suggestion that “you cannot put an end to anomy by using unconstitutional means.”
Now Tsipras, Pappas and their cohorts claim they won’t give up and continue their fight against corruption (God help us!) to the very end by bringing a new draft bill on broadcast licensing. Even though it was apparent from day one that Tsipras’ aim was to punish the owners of the TV stations that criticized his austerity policies and overall inadequacy and establish new ones that would follow the government line. Nothing more, nothing less.
But starting this whole charade for law and order in the media field was a mistake from the beginning. Probably Pappas and the rest were under the impression that the Council of State would vote in their favor. Hence the attempt to blackmail the court’s vice president through sex scandal reports in government-friendly media, such as Avgi and Kontra newspapers, only days before the crucial decision. Yet, even Education Minister Nikos Filis had said before the Council of State that if the court found the bill unconstitutional, it would be e defeat for the government.
Ιnstead of backing down gracefully, they insist on perpetuating the mistake by clashing with high judges and starting a new cycle of political deliberations over broadcasting licenses. Having lost credibility and with the opposition screaming, “Snap elections now!”