The European Parliament has adopted a resolution expressing serious concerns about the Rule of Law and fundamental rights and freedoms in Greece.
The government’s initial reaction, according to anonymous sources, was to describe the resolution as “a populist compilation full of misinformation” and to refer to “members of specific political groups who are turning Brussels into a political arena and, sadly, damaging the credibility of the European Parliament in the process.”
Starting the very next day, with the international media amplifying the issue through prominent coverage, government officials launched an attack on those who had voted for the resolution, employing rhetoric as dangerous as it was toxic.
For instance, in an online post, Minister of State Akis Skertsos asked citizens not to forget who voted “for”, referring to the Greek MEPs who voted in favor of adopting the resolution as ‘anti-Greeks’, a classic far-right term, and calling the European Parliament a troupe of traveling players. He stressed that the vote was an admission of failure on the part of the Left and Center-Left, though he “forgot” to mention that Renew (the European party with the Macron group at its core) also voted in favor of adoption. Finally, he repeated an argument the government and its supporters have used a good deal of late: “We won the elections, so you have no right to speak”.
Makis Voridis, another Minister of State, poured scorn on the resolution in his turn, saying the European Parliament had ended up pointing the finger at Greece in order to target the Prime Minister and New Democracy (ND). Evidently, as far as Mr Voridis is concerned, Greece is Kyriakos Mitsotakis and ND, and the European Parliament is nothing more that an mouthpiece for their enemies. La Grece c’est nous.
But government spokesman Pavlos Marinakis also spoke about MEPs who placed “their petty party politics above our national interests”, before also singling out the Greek MEPs who voted in favor.
These reactions on the part of the government are straight out of the far-right playbook: target dissenters with extreme rhetoric in order to provoke a conservative/nationalist knee-jerk reaction from society.
But this is extremely dangerous, because it divides society using methods that have cost Greece dear in the past. Methods that New Democracy itself has denounced in the past.
And in particular the argument that, because the Prime Minister is the leader of the largest conservative party, we should keep our mouths shut.
Which is to say the so-called liberal party has accepted that power is sweet and is now willing to defend it at all costs, even if that means adopting far-right logic.
Lefteris Papagiannakis is the director of the Greek Council for Refugees