What has Spain, 70's Pop icons, Piglet's scarf and an absence of women in politics to do with life? Read on, or listen to the podcast below for the full story.
Sadly, eternally was not to be as reliable a yardstick as the Greeks had hoped. Like Demis' Top Of The Pops stardom, it was to be followed - perhaps too quickly - by that awkward moment often seen in musicals when a song has finished, and the actors have to cough and shuffle back to the blandness of normality.
It's been a hectic week since the Greek left wing coalition Syriza took power. Promises to double the minimum wage took off to a good start when the new president announced an increase from 586 to 751 euros. Not quite double, but a start one could say.
Of course, winning 2 seats short of an overall majority would inevitably mean compromise. The pact with the centre right party raised more than one activists eyebrow. But hey, this is politics. Who really expects change? Particularly if we have voted for it. (Read more...)
The Demise of Demis
But then came the declaration that Greece will not falter on its debts. Some may be jubilant at such news, Not I, for the simple reason that the majority of people just voted precisely on this issue and gave the president - Alexis Tsipras - their backing to do whatever it took to end austerity. Saying you will do one thing, then doing the exact opposite is what drives the electorate to seek more radical responses. Electoral analysis is not rocket science.
Postures are by their very nature, temporary. Try standing on one leg - a particular favourite posture of mine - for more than a minute or two and you'll see what I mean. Postures adopted at election times though are different. They should come with health warnings - as should the shiny coated apples in supermarkets, or the day-glow sweets administered from street kiosks. Postures, yes, we understand are transitory starting points. So why concede your argument before even starting to talk ?
"Pressure from the banks", it is said. "To restore confidence in an sinking economy since Syriza took office." Hang on though! Hasn't Greece and almost the whole of Europe been failing precisely under these very same policies for the last 8 years. Surely, voting for a continuation of the same should be more worrying for the banks, not change!
Anyhow, as if things could get worse, the demise of Demis Roussos came just as news leaked that the new Greek cabinet was to be composed entirely of men. #sinmujeresnohaydemocracia
So what has all this to do with Spain and the price of sliced bread you may be asking? This is - after all - Speaking Of Spain with the GazpachomOnk. Where are the historical personajes, the recipes and photos of our sunny schizophrenic Spain?
Well, the Greece story gives cause for concern. Of course parties that do not obtain an overall majority, have to pact. Of course they compromise. This, under the right circumstances can be a good thing.
But no, it is not this, that causes my salmorejo to curdle. It's that the people of Greece gave Syriza their confidence, and they gave them their voice. President Alexis returned that confidence with a series of promises. Promises so far not only unfulfilled, but betrayed.
And so the collective European heads turn to Spain, where the salivating troika nod in unison, point to Greece and excitedly exclaim: "See! This is all that comes of your electoral sloganeering. This is what will come to Spain too if you mistakenly vote for the populists!
But will the fate of Podemos, be the same as Syriza?
I'm hoping not. But then again, I'm a hopeful sort of mOnk.
Podemos has promised true representative democracy to the people of Spain. This means that the party itself has to be answerable to the electorate - not just once every 4 years - but throughout its administration. And for it to be truly democratic it must be answerable to an informed, energised, engaged, and collectivised electorate. This will only come about by participation and fundamental structural change. Not from slogans that are easily tradable in the dusty halls of the political elite.
Is this representative form of democracy likely in Spain? I'd like to think so, but I'd hoped for the same in Greece.
Perhaps it is all just early days. Perhaps, Podemos will stay true and it will win an overall majority. Perhaps it will introduce true representative democracy for the first time in history and perhaps, piglet really does wear a scarf.