On the list of things that I have to do, thinking about Greek politics doesn’t feature that high. There’s very little time for it, first of all, and secondly, I have two small children, so constant bickering, one upmanship and petty fighting is almost constant background noise for me.
Why add to it by seeing what the country’s two main parties are up to?
Because whether I like it or not, I need to know what’s being said, to keep track of the so-called leaders of this country and what they plan on doing so that my children, and all the children of Greece, enjoy a better future.
So far, I see very little of substance.
While my family in the UK despairs over the Brexit, I get to live through an economic crisis that’s technically over, but actually only just beginning, watch the resources my children have access to decimated, be left with less money in my pocket each month and have to fight, repeatedly and through both left and right wing governments, for the resources my disabled child is fully entitled to on paper.
In between Syriza’s amateur hour politics where six months of 2015 were wasted because certain people thought they were living the plot of a Die Hard movie and not toying with the lives and livelihoods of actual people, which we’re still paying for today, and Mr Harvard Educated don’t-expect-an-equal-society , there is nothing left to choose from.
Neither left nor right in Greece has said anything which makes me feel that Greece is a country moving forward. Both sides are obsessed to an unhealthy degree with the state of pensions, which tells you all you need to know about where their priorities lie. Greece’s demographic graphs are already a disaster, and will continue to be so in a society where an older generation dominates so much of political discourse. One side is content that pensioners will die soon anyway, so don’t worry too much, while the other thinks that a privatised pension system in the style of Pinochet is a great idea. That’s never failed before.
Our children go to crumbling schools with poorly motivated teachers, and outdated teaching methods and textbooks. Their standards of education are kicked back and forth between leaders like a football depending on who is in power. Take that out of the textbook, put that back in, ban morning prayers, reinstate morning prayers, and so on and so on like some ridiculous parody of what a stable education system is supposed to look like . Meanwhile Greece has repeatedly, and through various governments, tested poorly on international education rankings.
Young people in Greece aren’t having enough children. Thousands upon thousands have left in droves. In a country where education is free, a two-tier system has persisted whereby those who can afford it pay practically as much as private school fees cost to send their kids to cram schools to pass university entrance exams. Can’t afford the cram schools or university fees? Too bad.
Once they leave school, they’ll enter a job market that’s also outdated and highly concentrated in several sectors. Their parents will start calling around to see who they know where, because meritocracy is something no government in Greece can spell let alone foster. Fed up, many of them will leave. I’ve left home twice now, and let me tell you, no one likes doing it. You have to have a good reason, and when you are young and feeling hopeless, a better salary and a bit of recognition for your abilities is a pretty fine reason.
It’s not good enough. The children of Greece deserve so much better than this, and what bothers me, what makes me so angry, is that I see no one taking steps to make it better. In between fiscal acrobatics and promises made from stages, there is nothing to convince me that a child in Greece today will be better off in five years.
On a personal level, I am angry and I am tired. I have a child who has a disability. After months and months and hours and hours of getting all the right paperwork for him, there are certain things that children like him should be entitled to. The choice to go to a more accessible school. A helper to assist him so he doesn’t fall and get badly hurt while at school. Basic things. Yet through the course of three different spectrums of government – independent, right and left – almost nothing has improved for families like mine.
We have been failed by every government. A new school year dawns with us fighting yet again for the basics which technically should have been automatically lined up for us, while men in suits bicker over who they will and won’t work with before they’ve even got into power and squeezing an extra 1 percent GDP from anywhere but pensions.
Every time I express a view about Greece’s politics, I’m immediately attacked online as if I have no skin in the game by people (almost always men) who most likely have a lot less to lose with each round of elections. Every time a government changes or a cabinet reshuffles, they are not immediately making calls like we are. Who is the health minister this time? How can we meet him? Do you think he’ll make it a bit easier for the disabled kids? What’s going to be cut this time?
I may sound harsh in my line of reasoning, that the young of the country should have more focus on them than the old. Perhaps I am. My reasoning is not perfect, neither is yours. All I know is that the children of a country are its future, and so far, no Greek party seems to be taking their country’s future seriously apart from a few empty, crowd-pleasing statements which they don’t follow through with.
I also know that you can judge a nation by how it treats its most disadvantaged. The vulnerable, the sick, the disabled, those seeking refuge. And well, the less I say on the track record of Greek governments when it comes to that, the better. My mum reads this blog so I’m restricted in my swearing.
Do I sound angry? It’s because I am. Because while I lose sleep over who the next leader of Greece will be and what it’ll mean for the future of my children, the sick joke is that I don’t even get to vote in this country. I can only do my own homework, study the policies of the next person due to come into power and hope that they’ll at least try to make Greece a better country.
In the meantime, I have to put my faith in the voting public and watch helplessly as I get no say in decisions that directly affect my life.
I am neither a Syriza fangirl, a hater of right-wing politics, nor a fan of Mitsotakis – my allegiance lies where I see a job well done, where I see results and lasting change not token gestures. I’m just another person living in Greece, a mother and an employee who is tired of wondering what fresh new thrills lie around the corner as the circus of Greek politics rolls into town.