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My Big Fat Greek Week

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07 July 2017

Wait; wasn't Sakis Rouvas already married to Katia Zygouli?
Your guess is as good as mine.

Apparently not; hence, the glorious wedding ceremony, which resulted in Greek media being flooded with photos of the happy couple, the popstar and the model, surrounded by their cherubic spawn (all four of them) and bookended by their best man, oil and media oligarch Vardis Vardinogiannis, and his wife, Marianna, Greece's beacon of philanthropy.

The last observation was meant as a joke, but the truth is that, due to her work for children with cancer alone, Ms Marianna (as she is known) would be eligible for the position of 'life-time parallel Minister of Health'.

As for Sakis, given that in the past years he has gone from popstar to casual interpreter of Mikis Theodorakis, to also casual actor of ancient drama, to political activist campaigning against the government in the 2015 referendum, he might as well run for politics.

Stranger things have happened.
For instance, a hate-spewing, racist, homophobic, anti-Semite, nationalist rising to one of the highest ranks in politics.

Such is the case of Dimitris Kammenos, MP of 'Independent Greeks', the far-right party which is part of the coalition-in-power, who was appointed by Greek parliament as one of the deputy Speakers of the House.

Quick civics lesson. The hierarchy in Greek politics goes like this: President of the Republic (position held by Prokopis Pavlopoulos, a constitutional law proffessor and former Nea Dimokratia minister), Prime Minister (our boy Alexis Tsipras) and Speaker of the House of Representatives (Tsipras' comrade, Nikos Voutsis).

Even in a parliament consisting of 300 largely incompetent MPs, a lot of them outright corrupt - and quite a few Nazi thugs under criminal investigation - Kammenos remains one of the least qualified for the job.

But who cares?
It's summer in Greece.

And there are so many much more important issues.
Such as the Survivor final, attracting a viewership of 78.7 per cent.
Which probably says everything that one should want to know about Greece.

But no, there is more.

The same week that commercial free-to-air TV was eating Survivor dust, the public broadcaster, not viewed by anyone, but documentary junkies and arthouse moviebuffs (a deplorable minority, that is), unveiled a monument situated in the open space in front of its headquarters. It's a sculpture, dedicated to the memory of the people who lost their lives after the abrupt closing of the company in 2013.

It was an authoritarian move from the Samaras government, which aimed to strike a blow to the Union of ERT employees, who were on a long strike. It was also a way for the government to get rid of a few thousand public servants, as per the wishes of the country's creditors.

It all backfired. And it continues to backfire in every direction possible.

When the head of the broadcaster - songwriter Dionisis Tsaknis - unveiled the scupture, created by internationally acclaimed sculptor Kiriakos Rokkos, he was confronted by former MP (voted first with the far-right Independent Greeks and subsequently with the far-left Syriza), Rachel Makri, who was one of the politicians fighting for the ERT to reopen. She accused him of exploiting the struggles of the workers, in pretty much the same way that Syriza betrayed its voters, conceding to the lenders' demands.

She was met with fierce reaction by the ERT chairman, furiously shouthing at her to 'shut up'. When she finally did and left, along with her children and the flowers she was carrying, he went on with his emotional speech.

As far as political debate goes, this was as Greek as it can get.

Especially considering that it coincided with the two year anniversary of the terribly worded referendum which was in fact let's be honest - about whether Greeks want to remain in the Eurozone, or go back to the drachma (or any other currency, for that matter).

Greece has yet to recover from the toxic polarisation of the time.
Nor from the capital controls which were implemented at the time.

And those who won the referendum by a sweeping 61.3 per cent, still can't fathom how they in turn lost, when their decision was disregarded by the same PM who asked them to vote against the creditor's wishes, only to fully surrender to them and implement even harsher austerity measures.

Survivor and other reality TV shows are a joke compared to this reality.

As for the other issue of debate, whether the people whose lives were ruined by austerity and unemployment, stress taking a toll on their health, their mental state, let's not get into it at the moment.

It's not for us to decide whether the former ERT employees who lost their jobs and then suffered strokes, heart attacks, aggressive cancers - or depression leading to suicide - should be commemorated as casualties of the memorandum.

Let's leave this decision for Sakis Rouvas, once he becomes prime minister.

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