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ΔEMOKRATIA – the Way of the Cross By Lisa Ambrosio April 3, 2013

Posted by usbngo in Older Posts.
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“ΔEMOKRATIA – the Way of the Cross” is a documentary by Marco Gastine, which follows the election campaign of four candidates from the most important parties (Nea Democratia, PASOK, Golden Dawn and Syriza) for the Parliamentary Elections of May, 6th 2012.

The film was screened during the 15th Thessaloniki Documentary Festival. The director, Marco Gastine, was there and by grabbing the chance of his presence we managed to have a very interesting discussion with him. To the interview below you can read what the director told us about his work and about the Greek politics.

Now the Greek political situation is on the focus of the international attention. What is the situation of the main political parties?

There is a kind of small political revolution here. After the fall of the Dictatorship in 1974, “PASOK”, the Socialist Party, and “New Democracy”, the conservative party, they were protagonists of the political life and they stayed in power for thirty years in alternation, one after the other. Now these parties are almost collapsing, especially the socialist party, which, in general elections in 2009, it had more than 40% of votes while in the elections of May 2012 it got 10%. The same happens with “New Democracy”, a little less because they were not in charge; now they are around 15-18% and they were more than 40%. On the other side, there is this incredible raise of “Syriza”, the radical left party, that was less than 4% and now it could be the first party and of the neo-Nazi party. This is the result of the crisis, because the anger of the people makes them aggregate in the two extremes, one of the ultra-left and one of the ultra-right.

Both Syriza and Golden Dawn are new in Greek political scene. Do they have a stable base and militants?

They are not so new parties. Actually “Syriza” has a long story: there was a split in the former Communist Party, because of the intervention in Czechoslovakia, so two directions of the communist party were born, one in Greece, the Communist party of Interior, and one in Moscow, which became the Communist party of the Exterior. In the beginning the Communist party of the Interior was stronger but, after the fall of the Dictatorship, it became the opposite and the Communist party of Exterior, which had a popular basis among workers, became the official one, while the Communist party of Interior became a party of intellectuals. This last one is the root of “Syriza”: there were some evolutions and some splits, until a few years ago when the last split created on one side the official “Syriza”, more radical, and on the other side “DIMAR”, a social-democratic party. So “Syriza” is not a new party. It has a basis among teachers and intellectuals, in the middle class, and just a little in the popular class. With the fall of “PASOK”, they are solidifying in the trade unions and among state workers. On the other side, “Golden Dawn”, the neo-Nazi party, is a very interesting phenomenon: it was a very small group which was created at the fall of the Dictatorship, in connection with its former members, and for many years they did only an ideological work. In the last decade they started to make propaganda and political action, very violent, and they started using demagogy against the immigrants, even before the beginning of the crisis. It is very shocking but also very interesting to see that now they are one of the most organized parties in the popular areas: they use the fear of old people to be stolen, linked to the raise of criminality, and they present themselves as the only ones who will defend the old people, put order in the streets, cease the illegal immigration. So in many popular areas are quite well implanted. They organize local base, as the Communist party was doing before.

In your movie we could see the “Golden Dawn” as a very aggressive group, but very poor in contents.

Their leaders have been developing a clear neo-Nazi ideology for many years, but now they have passed to the phase of propaganda and they know, very cleverly, that they can grow with very little ideology, mostly directed against immigrants, because of the crisis. The more violent they are, the more they grow. For example, just after the elections there was a TV programme, with four members of the Parliament, one from “Syriza”, one from the official Communist party and a young member of “Golden Dawn”; he was very aggressive against the others since the beginning of the show, and in the end he threw water and gave a punch to the Communist party member. Then he left the studio and the police was looking for him, but he left the town and nobody caught him. After this episode, the “Golden Dawn” raised in the public opinion. So, they know they can get result with a very simple but violent rhetoric. That is the reason why is very difficult to fight them. And many people are desperate, because they have been unemployed for many years, they still have no job, they lost everything, so they believe in simple things.

People do not trust anymore not only in political parties, but in the whole institutional system. How is it possible? And how is it linked with the crisis?

Greece was living a kind of lie in the past years. After the Second World War, Greece could not develop as a European country, because of the British intervention not to let the Communist take the power, then there was the Civil War and later the Dictatorship. It is just with the fall of the Dictatorship and then with the fall of the Soviet Union, that Greece could develop its economy. Thanks to the help of European Union and tourism, money was coming and people started spending much more than what they could earn. The economy was going well, a lot of cheap workers from Bulgaria, Romania and Albania were coming, so a middle class could develop. And suddenly, with the crisis, everything falls down. The people realized that the system was very corrupted and they did use these assets to encourage the real development. For example, the agricultural industry received many subsidies, but nobody asked for results; so instead of developing quality of production and modernizing it, the farmers used that money for themselves, with the complicity of the political parties. The same happened with the Trade Unions, which were giving jobs to their members. Now, people say that parties and unions did not tell them the truth, but actually nobody wanted to listen to the truth, because everybody was making profits with the system and this system has collapsed with the crisis. People are angry with their politicians, but they were part of it.

In this extremely difficult context, which is the function of a documentary?

It is cynical to say that, but crisis is a good thing, because people now have to face the situation as it is. That is why we make documentaries, because we are in love with reality; they could seem objectives, but they are not; it is just a way to see the reality. Few years ago, we could not make this kind of films, because people did not want to face their fears. This is what I want to make with my films, not to judge but just show people as it is. I want to make people conscious about themselves, with their flaws and their qualities.

What are the future prospects for Greece?

A good effect of the crisis was that people understood that they could not afford it alone, so new solidarity relations were born. You can see it everywhere, even among film makers, we created an association that was not existing until now. We make films with no budget, because there are more and more documentaries and less and less money and if we put our forces all together, maybe we can find a solution. Of course, it does not work for the country. For this economical and political problem in a grand scale, I am not very optimistic. I do not believe in these easy solutions that the populists offer us. Maybe Greece made more mistakes than other countries, but does not work anywhere; it is making the common people poorer and poorer, while a few minority gets richer and richer, but we cannot pay anymore for the banks and one day the small countries will start to refuse these politics, like Cyprus did. You cannot see very well where the crisis is. Many people come to Greece and see the cafeterias full and just a few homeless people on the street, which is something you could not have seen a few years ago. But if you go inside the life of the people, they do not have money and many do not have anything to eat. It is like a building going into the ground; that was living in the fourth floor, now is on the second, who was in the second level now is on the ground and you can see this building collapsing slowly. And the political class, the European leaders are not conscious about it; they just impose solutions that are not suitable for the everyday life of the common people; it is not tragic yet, but it will become and for many people it is very difficult, especially for the young generation. I cannot tell solutions and I cannot tell what is going on, but I do not think the situation will get better by itself. Let’s create our wealth, and not keep on giving money to banks, that will not give it to the society.

ImageMarco Gastine is a Greek-French film maker who was born in Paris in 1952. Since 1978 he lives and works in Athens, where he studied Film Directing. His work is always focused on cities and their people.

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