Monday, February 2, 2015

25 January, 2015

It’s been a week since the new government was elected and I am still having some difficulty putting my thoughts and feelings in order, much less in writing. This is the best that I can do for the time being:

Before the elections I felt scared. I knew that Syriza, for the first time in history, would get the majority vote of the Greek people. Syriza is the only party I have ever voted for, not because I am a κομματόσκυλο (literally “partydog”) but because in the past the most I could hope, for was for them to have as strong a presence in Parliament as possible, so that they could act as the moral opposition to what I perceived as unjust laws that were being passed by the previous governments. Also, I’m a leftie.

This time, however, was different because of the responsibility of voting for what would become the ruling party. I would be held responsible if they didn’t keep their promises, if they turned out to be corrupt, if they didn’t know what to do once they were in power (which was the public’s prevailing opinion until recently).

When Alexis Tsipras gave his first speech on the night of the elections, I cringed. At first it was his body language that brought back memories of Andreas Papandreou speaking to the masses in the 80s, not an association any of us wanted to make. This was made worse by his reference to symbols like the “sun”, which brought on more unwelcome associations: the logo of the PASOK party, its hollow rhetoric.

I went to bed weary and in the morning, as I read the news about the Syriza – Independent Greeks coalition, I felt even worse.

Then they swore in and as I was eager to see who is who, I read the CVs of all those who were given a position in the new government. I was impressed. They immediately started announcing the changes that would be made. Children born and raised in Greece by foreign parents would be given citizenship. The bars that had been raised outside the Parliament ever since the first riots almost five years ago, were removed. The hideously expensive cars driven by former politicians would be sold off. The privatizations of the Greek power company and Piraeus harbor were halted. And to top it off, Economics Minister Varoufakis refused to negotiate with the troika.

I should have been counting how many times my eyes have watered in the past week. I find myself renewing webpages like a news junkie. I want to know what the government is saying, what they are doing, who they are seeing. I had never, ever in my whole life, been interested in what politicians do. Syriza has made an informed citizen out of me and I’m not the only one. There is a whole disinterested, politician-hating generation out there that is being reformed.  
I don’t know how things will turn out. Life might get harder before the mess we’re in starts getting untangled. But I feel alive again. I don’t feel despair. I don’t feel ashamed, powerless, helpless. Like I don’t matter.

What the hell. I’ll go on and say it. For the first time in my life, I feel proud of my people.

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