Greece ahead: 12 policy pointers

PexelsThe following points represent thoughts generated throughout the crisis years. They are common-sense pointers about Greece inspired by long-standing distortions and problems linked with structural weaknesses and old fashioned mentality.

State protectionism, clientelistic politics, excessive partisanship, closed professions, politically affiliated corporate interests and the inability of the average Greek politician to handle and communicate the truth have been some of the key reasons for the country’s misfortunes in the last eight years. Most of them still remain present.

The solutions are painful but simple; management of people and sustainable projects, across-the-board digitalisation, the dominance of common sense over bureaucracy are some of the tools that could combine simplicity, disruptive solutions and long lasting results.

In times like these, citizens tend to be wiser than their political representatives. The latter remain still absorbed into the tricks of the trade that secure the survival of the profession, whereas, as the Greek case has proven, they do not hesitate to use their positions for personal gain. The wisdom of the crowd, on the other hand is of diachronic value, being reflected through social research and opinion poll figures (despite partisan interpretations) or on the ballot box.

Some of the key pointers worth-considering are:

1. About the government: Current coalition government should have a single goal: to really persuade people that after a long list of austerity measures and reforms, the MoU years are coming to an end and henceforth Greece will be a new country. In key areas the ‘how’ remains a riddle and it is more a matter of mindset rather than a chapter of the new national growth plan.

2. About the crisis: If a financial auditor was asked to explain the Greek crisis, they will probably say that everything is about revenues and expenses and the ability to keep a balance at the end of the fiscal year. An accounting professor would say the same thing, probably citing an Accounting 101 textbook as further reading.

3. Political Juxtaposition: Amidst this harsh systemic battle amongst the old, many people (across the age spectrum) remain politically orphaned, lacking the reasoning to place themselves in any of the existing camps. They are also short of the appetite to become active in the political realm, since they think that although such a move is, nowadays, much easier to pull through, their voice will be buried under petty partisan considerations and inner party power games. Therefore, a new type of political party is required, preferably not made by old materials.

4. Politicians: The way out of the vicious circle of deficits, policy failures and inefficient political strategies requires drastic solutions. It mainly requires a large proportion of Greek politicians to appear brave, ignore the petty interests of their clientele, promote innovative solutions and sacrifice themselves on the altar of real life management. This will be the beginning of the end for the Greek problem.

5. About old dogs: the ruling intellectual and financial cast should stop behaving as old dogs refusing to learn new tricks. Or if they continue to do so, they should just simply crawl away and ‘die’.

6. Economy: Greece is characterised by an abundance of resources, plus what economists call ‘external economies’, which (even excluding the hydrocarbon resources saga) constitute a vast amount of unexplored GDP on land, in the air and at sea.

7. Entrepreneurship: The internet is full of stories of young people who managed to fight the crisis and escape inactivity through the materialisation of an entrepreneurial idea that was later destroyed by Greek bureaucracy.

8. The Youth: For most Greek educators, managers and politicians alike, young people (the Millennials, not to mention the upcoming Generation Z) constitute terra incognita. Thus, the generation gap -fuelled by rapid developments in the digital field- continues to increase in education, entrepreneurship and politics, alongside the lack of meaningful development processes.

9. Withering Greek media: old media barons fail to understand that the Greek word “ephemeral” [hence ‘efimerida’] is much more powerful and buzzy than any news (printed) on paper or broadcast on old television. The future of the news business and the new era of the fourth estate is based on new delivery platforms most current media moguls fail to fathom…

10. About powerful sources: in the internet era, institutional sources are acquiring control of the flow of information by becoming media themselves. Also, some say that news media do not own news anymore. Moreover, readership surveys suggest that a growing proportion of news readers prefer to use direct links suggested by their friends on social network pages rather than browsing news menus prepared by professional editors on structured home-pages of mainstream news outlets.

11. About the future: Despite the recession, the new economy allows for the regeneration of many fields and it is open to creative, forward-thinking people who are not afraid to follow the trends, rely on their skills and experiment with their instincts. The only thing the Greek state should do is to allow them to thrive; if not, the brain drain will continue.

12. About elections: National, municipal and Euro elections will require new narratives and Greek politicians are still dancing to the wrong tune. Truth does not take sides and as it seems, Greek people have acted as if they have followed a golden mean rule. Greeks’ voting behaviour appears to balance between old and new, security and experimentation, systemic and unconventional, wise and foolish.

Greece’s promising future is near and at the same time so far away. Just a breath away from the official end of the austerity era, messages are clear and politicians find themselves facing the same challenge, namely to enhance their reason for existence through efficiency and tangible results that should make up for people’s sacrifices. However, as Greek contemporary history has shown (in relatively recent and old national crises), this hasn’t always been the case.

Demetris Kamaras

Journalism Professor and journalist, primarily online. Political analyst and communications specialist. Previous studies in economics (BA), communications policy (MA) and journalism (PhD), mostly in London. Born in Hove, Brighton. Lives in Athens, Greece. Blogs when necessary. Founded and running Private Information Network and [The Greek]. Occasional articles of friends are published on Interested in political communication, next-gen web apps, digital R&D, internet ethics and social networks. He taught journalism and communication at University of Indianapolis Athens (1999-2013). Published numerous analyses and op-eds, online and in print and his first book was titled: Digital Communication (Zenon Publications, London, 2000 – co-authorship). Recent publications: Crisis Talk; Greece (2012) – iBook/Avaialble on iTunes. Elections and the Internet, Digerati Publications (Athens, 2014) (in Greek).

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