The Communist Party in Greece has not yet reached the Eurocommunist stage that its fellow parties in Western Europe reached in the 1970s and 80s. This did not do the parties a lot of good in the long run, but it ensured that their leaders found places in left leaning parties of the centre when the end of communism finally arrived and they have managed to continue their careers, just like the ex-communists of Eastern Europe. The role of a communist party in Western Europe as a niche in the political defence of principle in politics is a hard one to explain in post communist politics especially in Eastern Europe where the lack of principle in the Communist Party was apparent for all to see. A Greek colleague has described the party as continuing to market a product for which the factory had long since closed.
However in Greece it is still done in the old way. In a column this week in Athens News , Mark Dragoumis suggests that the Communists have no solutions to the 21st century problems of Greece but “mass struggle”. Their party seems not even to debate the problems, but oppose everything as a matter of course, expecting in the 21st century “the renaissance of communism” that not even pensioners in Russia expect. The only other visible plank of policy is opposing the EU on any and all grounds.
Their influence also helps to prolong in Greece the expectation of a job in the government for life, even if it is a low-paid job where no real work gets done. This “social right to work” seems to be one of the hardest beliefs to shift, in an age of “life long learning”.
But even the Government is still involved in the market in ways that are very hard to understand. Somewhere in the last couple of days, I saw that the Government was still involved in fixing the price of bread, water and even sandwiches. Of course there are no ways to enforce this!
Another petty irritation is the restriction on pharmacy locations and opening times. All pharmacies are small family run affairs which seem to open and shut to suit the family. Although there are lots of them, they are never open at weekends when I do my shopping. There are no big international firms running chains of well-stocked big shops, presumably because of the restrictions on opening any new ones when there are already enough within a prescribed area. The newspapers have to run lists of open pharmacies, so you can find one that is actually open, though whether it will have what you want is another matter. We usually give up and drive straight to the airport (30 mins and a toll motorway) if we need something as that is the biggest pharmacy we know. Other people must do that too, as it seems to be one of the biggest shops in the airport, and the people are always kind and helpful.