The Hellenic Republic is a country located in the southeast of Europe on a territory of 131 957 square kilometres. It is inhabited by 11,132,966 citizens. The capital and largest city is Athens. Biggest industry/employer is tourism. Greece is divided into 9 geographic regions: Macedonia, Central Greece, the Peloponnese, Thessaly, Epirus, the Aegean Islands, Thrace, Crete, and the Ionian Islands. The national language is Greek.
Greece terrain is 80% mountainous. Greece is a unitary parliamentary republic. The head of state is the President who is elected by the Parliament for a 5 year term. The head of government is the Prime Minister elected by the president, who institutes for this position the leader of the governing party. The main religion is Easter Orthodoxy at 90% . The rest include: Catholicism (>1%), Irreligion (4%), Islam (2%) and the Other religions (1%).
Societal and Class Characteristics
In Greece tradition is highly esteemed. Its most central components are masculinity and collectivism. The extended family along with a tightly-knit community determine one’s social standing. The community judges each individual based on his/hers perceived following of rigid social norms/expectations. These are, among others, high competition with an emphasis on success (rather than cooperation in more feminine societies), support and care given to family members, and symbols of power that the individual holds.
Clan mentality. Strongly connected to the region’s mountainous geography and multiple islands /long steep shorelines. Infrastructure development, trade and government considerably more expensive as well as challenging to upkeep compared to flatter terrain countries. This resulted in limitations in contact between the country’s inhabitants. Favouritism towards one’s closest social circle prevailed also due to a historical component.
The relationship between state and taxpayers had been based on submission and aggression during the Ottoman 400 year long occupation. The Ottoman state acted unfavourably towards Greeks. Over time, a stigma remained in Greek mentality that shows in a higher than average power distance nowadays: Government=bad. Whatever belongs to the government (i.e. public spaces) does not belong to citizens thus destroying public property is acceptable. Hence the widespread vandalism in Greek urban areas.
Greeks love to boast of their country. They fly the Greek flag in front of their houses, celebrate national holidays by instituting huge street parades, glorify ancient Greek history. No matter how much they suffer through crises or political inefficiency, they would rather die in battle fighting, than admit to a tourist passer-by that Greece could be any less than perfect! It’s the land of freedom they say.
Civic disobedience is rampant while all of the country’s problems are blamed on any entity other than Greece. This kind of Patriotism prevents the Greek ego from deflating as it rests on the wretched bodies of work of long-gone generations millennia past; the national myth!
Politics and Populism
The 2008 global economic crisis hit Greece exceptionally hard. A eurozone member, completely unprepared for what was coming. The Greek political elite had been forging state bureaucracy records for years to mask the reality behind the country’s unsustainable debt. Decades of irresponsible governments had finally accumulated eventually bringing the country to financial ruin. The true state of affairs was suddenly brought to light.
Greece entered the European economic zone without having had raised up to the required joining standards, then proceeded to increase its national debt by resource distribution to unchecked government spending programs. Programs that hadn’t been planned and did not contribute to capital development.
They were created to appease the masses who were promised a wealthy lifestyle for their loyalty vote. All of the above without any heavy restructuring measures tried. Debt had to be payed back. The Greek government was forced to collect funds. It decided to achieve this objective by increasing taxation on private entreprizes and making cuts to vital public institutions i.e. the healthcare, education and police sectors. Crime in big cities skyrocketed.
Quality of education deteriorated while at the same time hospitals and welfare buildings began lacking in basic necessities. Angry protesters swarmed the streets for years demanding back their past promised lifestyle. Most of the population adopted a victim mentality supported by conspiracy theories. According to these, Greece is subject to economy empire’s neo colonialism.
The German economy flourishes on Greek suffering. Everybody is so jealous of Greece, Greek history, Greek climate, Greek islands, Greek foods that they want to subjugate Greece so they can take it all for themselves-for free! The fact that greeks have the most frequent sex encounters per week globally does not need to raise an eyebrow at this point.
In such an environment of uncertainly about the future and despair, populists flourish. Their tactics in Greece range from saying whatever most of the population wants to hear as reassurance or playing into the hearts of marginalised (but considerable in size) minorities such as the elderly. For instance, members of the Golden Dawn Fascist political party took more than 1% of the votes. by appealing to the very old acting as servicepeople so as to deceive.
Economy- Greece operates in a globalised world where economy dominates politics , however Greece is not a free market economy. Favouritism and corruption are part of the issue although bureaucracy has the biggest impact on economy. The law framework changes too frequently as per ruling party.
Businesses can’t grow/expand. Only monopolies can afford that. Greece is in danger of slipping right into the third world land category. It remains to be seen whether it will ever get a chance to recover.
Centralisation: too much rigidity in state operations which makes the whole system inflexible and inefficient. Every matter of public working is pre-decided in Athens and is sometimes ill-fitted to certain smaller localities.. The biggest cities suffer from overpopulation and keep growing due to demand for jobs. Ageing population/brain drain: lack of an industrial complex pushes greeks towards seeking higher quality of life standards abroad, especially in the UK.
The remaining population consists more and more of elders or pensioneers. The native birthrate is far below what is required for a culture to survive. It currently stands at 1.3 births per woman.
Greece is an interesting case in point. It offers rich history and traditions. Moreover, it is a country that is incorporating modernity into its own still quite conservative culture. Despite the challenges on its way, Greece is managing to pull well above its weight in the international community. It is maintaining its efforts to pull itself out of economic misery and back into a safer future.