Have you ever heard of the president of one country addressing the nation of another live on prime time television 4 days before crucial elections?
Well, that is not exactly what it was but it is what it added up to being.
In an interview on Mega TV Channel at 8pm last night, new French president Francois Hollande got an opportunity to inspire a fresh wave of fear in Greek voters.
He specifically said that he did not wish to influence the elections but simultaneously warned that certain EU member states would wish to be rid of Greece if it rejects the conditions of its bailout. President Hollande asked for Greek citizens to have confidence in him and declared that he would ensure that funds for development were channelled into Greece if it held to its agreement.
Now there are only two parties that would hold to the agreement, i.e. Nea Demokratia and PASOK, and there is only one party who could win the elections that wishes to reject the bailout conditions. Syriza, the Coalition of the Radical Left.
Surely Hollande did not mean to imply that one should NOT VOTE FOR SYRIZA? Did he really offer assurances that the EU will give Greece more money if it should vote for one of the two parties who crooked the books in the first place?
But wait…no, I am sure that is not what Monsieur Hollande meant. He said that he did not want to influence the elections. And if he said it then it must be true.
So what do I think? I think it is a good thing that Mr Hollande did not intend to add to the mammoth pressure on the Greek electorate not to vote for Syriza. Because if his interview was a well-timed and charmingly delivered threat then I am not surprised that fascist neo-nazi parties like Xrysi Avgi (Golden Dawn) have entered parliament. If you cannot vote for the corrupt centre left and centre right, and one cannot vote for the far left…only one heinous option is left. Far Right.
No one likes to be bullied or intimidated into doing something regardless of how graciously it is done, and even a well-intentioned person who offers money in exchange for votes is still doing exactly what he seems to be doing. Bribery.
Any honourable person would be morally and ethically obliged to decline a bribe. Although there can be no doubt that some people would react favourably and look to line their pockets in the future. European funds always ended up lining someone (and their friends’) pockets. Others would react with anxiety to the accompanying consequences of not accepting the bribe and obey out of fear rather than greed. A percentage of the population would be paralysed by what catastrophe disobeying would bring. They may not even dare to vote, as if abstaining would somehow render them free from both the taint of corruption and the responsibility for a potential calamity.
But not everyone would be afraid. Especially in the country that gave birth to and raised philosophers and Spartan warriors alike. A country where each year we still honour the 300 men who stood against the might of the Persian Empire at Thermopylae…
In such a country one could expect some to have a different reaction. To reject the shame of fear regardless of the personal cost. To make a stand against those who threaten their national sovereignty. To oppose those who would make debt slaves of them. A country of good, free people. People who understand that when the centre of anything is corrupt, good people are pushed to extremes.
Thankfully this is just wild speculation. After all, Mr Hollande said specifically that he did not wish to influence elections, and if he said it then it must be true.
Besides…most households probably did not even watch his interview. We certainly did not. Nor did anyone else we know. There was Euro cup football on another station.