The Greek Conservative Revival

Last fall, in mid-September, a series of unprecedented fires raged across a large part of Peloponnese (including the area surrounding ancient Olympia), killing 68 people.  Then, on September 16, something else happened that caused widespread panic—at least among liberals: For the first time in 30 years, a national conservative party (the People’s Orthodox Rally) won seats in the Hellenic Parliament.  The liberals responded the way liberals typically do—by engaging in name-calling.

For years, the political establishment in Greece, mirroring their colleagues in other European countries, have been out of touch with the real problems faced by the people.  Thanks to an “open borders” trade policy, industrial and manufacturing companies have been transferring their operations to Eastern European countries, the manufacturing sector has disintegrated, and 21 percent of the Greek population lives below the poverty level (355 euros per month).  At the same time, Greece faces an unprecedented influx of illegal immigrants.  The government’s best estimate is that they number between 750,000 and 2.5 million, which amounts to one quarter of the population.  When it comes to foreign policy, the two largest parties—the social-democratic PASOK and the liberal New Democracy—hold positions that could best be described as “national suicide”: Both support the accession...

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