A lot of fuss is being made over the idea that Democratic Left (DIMAR) leader Uncle Fotis Kouvelis will be the nominee of the ruling parties of Greece to be the country’s next President and it’s needless, although Groucho Marx would be better.
First of all, he has all the necessary qualifications: he’s malleable, doesn’t make waves, does what he’s told and is happy at any party to have a lamp shade put on his head when he’s asleep on the couch with his mouth open as people try to throw popcorn in it.
A former Communist stalwart who created DIMAR when the country’s now major opposition Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) wanted a leader with a pulse and an idea – even the wrong one – Kouvelis is a man of revolving principles, just what you want in a politician and a weathervane.
After Prime Minister Antonis Samaras’ New Democracy Capitalists didn’t get enough votes in the 2012 election to rule outright – leading him to bring in his bitter political rival the PASOK Anti-Socialists and their soulless leader Evangelos “Opportunist” Venizelos – DIMAR was also brought in to bring some alleged credibility and votes to the coalition.
Kouvelis jumped at the chance to have his name and face in the paper in a section other than the cartoons and embraced harsh austerity measures that were antithetical to his tiny party’s platform.
For a year he went along with just about every pay cut, tax hike and slashed pension Samaras put before him. When the Premier fired all 2,653 workers – most of them needless appendages – at the national broadcaster ERT and shut it down, that was too much for Kouvelis who must have realized there was an ancient Greek god named Testicles.
Alas, it was too late both for ERT, which was replaced by an equally boring patronage-packed Hackville called NERIT, and for DIMAR, which saw its support in polls fall to as low as 1.4 percent.
That meant 98.6 percent of Greeks had no faith in Kouvelis or didn’t care anything about him. Now that’s the kind of guy you want to represent Greece as President, even in an office that is mostly symbolic and whose duties largely consist of having your picture taken with the Prime Minister.
If Kouvelis gets the nod, Samaras will have both taken the wind out of the sails and pulled the rug out from under SYRIZA’s leader Alexis “Che” Tsipras, who said he would oppose any candidate for President, believing that block would lead to early elections and bring him to power, although he wouldn’t have a clue what to do if he won.
Greece’s President is traditionally a compromise between the rulers and the opposition and other parties but it takes 180 votes in the 300-member Parliament to elect one and the coalition has only 152.
Samaras could get 11 more from DIMAR, unless a number of lawmakers in the party unhappy that Kouvelis rolled over for the Premier don’t vote for him, which seems unlikely. That means Samaras would only have to get 17 more votes to put Kouvelis in the President’s chair.
Kouvelis’ tongue is practically hanging out in lust for the job but he’s trying to play cool about it. The government is playing down reports he’s their guy but he’s sent out the vibes that he wants it bad.
“The issue of the election of a President of the Republic is one of broader consensuses,” Kouvelis told his party’s central committee in one of his more exciting statements. This guy can put you to sleep faster than Sominex. Watching paint dry is more fun. He’s more irrelevant than a World Series banner at Wrigley Field.
“It will be judged when the time is right and that time is not now,” he said, adding that the matter depended also on “the policies which will be exercised,” apparently a feeble shot at Samaras to back away from austerity, which won’t happen.
Kouvelis’ statement followed reports suggesting that DIMAR will only consider backing him as a candidate if it sees a shift in the coalition’s policy away from austerity, but he’ll give up that fight faster than the French in World War II.
He’s probably practicing in front of a mirror now, preening and saying out loud: “Ladies and Gentlemen … the President of Greece … Fotis Kouvelis!”
It doesn’t have quite the ring of President Rufus T. Firely, who was more qualified to lead Freedonia into ruin than Kouvelis is to be President of Greece. “If you think this country’s bad off now, just wait until I get through with it.”
Since the Greek President’s job is essentially to have his picture with whomever’s Prime Minister and nod his head from time to time and agree to do whatever’s he told, it doesn’t really make any difference who it is.
But some in New Democracy aren’t satisfied. Health Minister Makis Voridis, who jumped from the far-right LAOS, said the next President should be someone with “broad appeal” – as long as he was from the center-right, which means New Democracy.
New Democracy lawmaker Andreas Psycharis wants Parliament Speaker Vangelis Meimarakis from New Democracy, who takes his orders from Samaras, which rather defeats the purpose of compromise and broad appeal.
So in that spirit, let’s not stop there but go all the way and dispense with pretense and façade. Under those stacked rules, the only man capable of being the President of Greece is another former LAOS cuckoo who jumped to New Democracy and was Health Minister too.
“Ladies and Gentlemen, the President of Greece, resident looney and crackpot TV infomercial salesman for books about ancient Greece …. Adonis Georgiadis!”