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Putting the “Hammer” Down in Greece: More about Fascists in the New Government

COMMENT: From Mark Ames comes an impor­tant new post, sup­ple­ment­ing infor­ma­tion about fas­cists in the new Greek gov­ern­ment. Recall that Greece was under the rule of a fas­cist jun­ta that came to pow­er in 1967.  Makis “Ham­mer” Voridis, the cur­rent min­is­ter of  “Infra­struc­ture, Trans­port and Net­works” in the Greek Gov­ern­ment, is a doc­tri­naire fas­cist and unabashed sup­port­er of the jun­ta. Voridis derived his nick­name from his habit­u­al  fond­ness for using hatch­ets and ham­mers on polit­i­cal oppo­nents, hon­ing those skills as a street thug for fas­cist caus­es and orga­ni­za­tions.

As dis­cussed in Mar­tin A. Lee’s book The Beast Reawak­ens, the fas­cists who over­threw Greek democ­ra­cy were drawn from the resid­ua of the col­lab­o­ra­tionist gov­ern­ment that ruled dur­ing the Nazi occu­pa­tion dur­ing World War II.

Those fas­cists were pre­served as an anti-com­mu­nist cadre as part of “Oper­a­tion Stay Behind”–a NATO pro­gram that uti­lized fas­cists as reserves in the event of a Sovi­et inva­sion of Europe. In sev­er­al coun­tries, they active­ly desta­bi­lized demo­c­ra­t­ic forces. (The Ital­ian com­po­nent of Stay Behind was the Glad­io pro­gram, dis­cussed in Mis­cel­la­neous Archive Show M49.)

“Aus­ter­i­ty and Fas­cism in Greece: The Real 1% Doc­trine” by Mark Ames; smirkingchimp.com; 11/17/2011.

EXCERPT: See the guy in the pho­to there, dan­gling an ax from his left hand? That’s Greece’s new “Min­is­ter of Infra­struc­ture, Trans­port and Net­works” Makis Voridis cap­tured back in the 1980s, when he led a fas­cist stu­dent group called “Stu­dent Alter­na­tive” at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Athens law school. It’s 1985, and Min­is­ter Voridis, dressed like some Kaja­goo­goo Nazi, is caught on cam­era patrolling the cam­pus with his fel­low fas­cists, hunt­ing for sus­pect­ed left­ist stu­dents to bash. Voridis was boot­ed out of law school that year, and sued by Greece’s Nation­al Asso­ci­a­tion of Stu­dents for tak­ing part in vio­lent attacks on non-fas­cist law stu­dents. . . .

. . . . This rather dis­turb­ing def­i­n­i­tion of what counts as “non-ide­o­log­i­cal” or “tech­no­crat­ic” in 2011 is some­thing most folks are try­ing hard to ignore, which might explain why there’s been almost noth­ing about how Greece’s new EU-imposed aus­ter­i­ty gov­ern­ment includes neo-Nazis from the LAOS Par­ty (LAOS is the acronym for Greece’s fas­cist polit­i­cal par­ty, not the South­east Asian par­adise).

Which brings me back to the new Min­is­ter of Infra­struc­ture, Makis Voridis. Before he was an ax-wield­ing law stu­dent, Voridis led anoth­er fas­cist youth group that sup­port­ed the jailed leader of Greece’s 1967 mil­i­tary coup. Greece has been down this fas­cism route before, all under the guise of sav­ing the nation and com­plaints about alleged par­lia­men­tary weak­ness. In 1967, the mil­i­tary over­threw democ­ra­cy, imposed a fas­cist jun­ta, jailed and tor­tured sus­pect­ed left­ist dis­si­dents, and ran the coun­try into the ground until the jun­ta was over­thrown by pop­u­lar protest in 1974.

That mil­i­tary junta—and the Unit­ed States sup­port for it (for which Clin­ton apol­o­gized in 1999 [3])—is a raw and painful mem­o­ry for Greeks. Most Greeks, any­way. As far as today’s Infra­struc­ture Min­is­ter, Makis Voridis, was con­cerned, the only bad thing about the jun­ta was that it was over­thrown by democ­ra­cy demon­stra­tors. A fas­cist par­ty was set up in the ear­ly 1980s in sup­port of the jailed coup leader, and Voridis head­ed up that party’s youth wing. That’s when he earned the nick­name “Ham­mer.” You can prob­a­bly guess by now why Greece’s Infra­struc­ture Min­is­ter was giv­en the nick­name “Ham­mer”: Voridis’s favorite sport was hunt­ing down left­ist youths and beat­ing them with, yes, a ham­mer.

After the ham­mer, he grad­u­at­ed to law school– and the ax; was expelled from law school; and worked his way up the adult world of Greek fas­cist pol­i­tics, his ax tucked under the bed some­where. In 1994, Voridis helped found a new far-right par­ty, The Hel­lenic Front. In 2004’s elec­tions, Voridis’s “Hel­lenic Front Par­ty” formed a bloc with the neo-Nazi “Front Par­ty,” head­ed by Greece’s most noto­ri­ous Holo­caust denier, Kon­stan­ti­nos Ple­vis, a for­mer fas­cist ter­ror­ist whose book, “Jews: The Whole Truth,” praised Adolph Hitler and called for the exter­mi­na­tion of Jews. Ple­vis was charged and found guilty of “incit­ing racial hatred” in 2007, but his sen­tence was over­turned on appeal in 2009.

By that time, Makis “Ham­mer” Voridis had trad­ed up in the world of Greek fas­cism, merg­ing his Hel­lenic Front Par­ty into the far-right LAOS par­ty, an umbrel­la par­ty for all sorts of neo-Nazi and far-right polit­i­cal orga­ni­za­tions. LAOS was found­ed by anoth­er rav­ing anti-Semi­te, Gior­gos Karatzeferis—nicknamed “KaratzaFührer” in Greece for alleg­ing that the Holo­caust and Auschwitz are Jew­ish “myths,” and say­ing that Jews have “no legit­i­ma­cy to speak in Greece.” . . . .


25 comments for “Putting the “Hammer” Down in Greece: More about Fascists in the New Government”

  1. Thanks for putting up this valu­able info, Dave.........also, thanks to Grum­pus­Rex and Ter­rafractyl for their fur­ther con­tri­bu­tions. =)

    Posted by Steven l. | November 17, 2011, 7:03 pm
  2. Here’s an even more depress­ing take on the sit­u­a­tion in Greece...that mak­ing LAOS part of the gov­ern­ment has actu­al­ly weak­ened its pop­u­lar sup­port:

    One los­er from the process has been LAOS, the far-Right par­ty — a split off from New Democ­ra­cy, which then attract­ed sev­er­al fas­cists from the “Gold­en Dawn” move­ment, want­i­ng to go main­stream. LAOS’s entry into gov­ern­ment, in pur­suit of respectabil­i­ty, appears to have cut it off from sup­port that polls sug­gest­ed it could have gained, as an anti-sys­temic par­ty. One left­ist said to me that LAOS’s entry to the inter­im gov­ern­ment was “an enor­mous relief — they lost their chance to become a Le Pen style par­ty”.

    Aaaar­rgh, the stu­pid­i­ty...it hurts!:

    Harsh real­i­ty on the streets of Athens

    By , For­eign Cor­re­spon­dent online assign­ment

    Updat­ed Novem­ber 09, 2011 16:49:52

    With Greece in tur­moil, world atten­tion has focused on a nation wracked by strikes and aus­ter­i­ty mea­sures.

    Vio­lent march­es on Par­lia­ment have become rou­tine.

    On assign­ment for For­eign Cor­re­spon­dent ear­li­er this year, I watched as pub­lic ser­vants joined ranks with anar­chists and railed against declin­ing liv­ing stan­dards, gov­ern­ment cuts and the harsh demands dic­tat­ed by Greece’s de fac­to mas­ters — the politi­cians and bankers of the Euro­pean Union.

    But once the rage was spent, the bro­ken glass swept away and shops re-opened, many of the faces in the street clear­ly weren’t of Greek ori­gin.

    Athens has under­gone rad­i­cal demo­graph­ic change in recent years.

    In the Pla­ka, under the shad­ow of the Acrop­o­lis, tourists were mobbed by hordes of Nige­ri­ans sell­ing fake design­er hand­bags, while Pak­ista­nis and Afghans flogged pirat­ed DVDs on the pave­ments of the down­town com­mer­cial dis­trict.

    There was an air of ten­sion that did­n’t exist a few years ago when times were good. Greeks blamed undoc­u­ment­ed immi­grants for a sharp rise in vio­lent crime. With unem­ploy­ment run­ning at 16.5 per cent, migrants were accused of tak­ing Greek jobs and were tar­get­ed in sav­age attacks by neo-Nazis of the ‘Gold­en Dawn’ move­ment.


    So the Greeks need­ed to include a bunch of neo-nazi “Gold­en Dawn” bud­dies in order to keep them from gain­ing more pow­er. It’s like a Catch-22 fused with a Pyrric vic­to­ry.

    I think “Gold­en Dawn” & Friends boost­ers maybe be a lit­tle con­fused. The thugs they’re sup­port­ing are actu­al­ly called “The Gold­man Dawn” and they are very thank­ful for the sup­port.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | November 17, 2011, 10:07 pm
  3. I won­der how these new gov­ern­ment part­ners are being received by the local media:

    Per­son­al inter­ests ahead of nation­al good

    By Pan­telis Boukalas

    No one has the right any­more to claim that PASOK betrayed its found­ing char­ter or that it broke its fun­da­men­tal promis­es. Sure, it took some time, but the Pan­hel­lenic Social­ist Movement’s fore­most pledge made when it first came to pow­er in 1981 has final­ly mate­ri­al­ized. “PASOK in gov­ern­ment, the peo­ple [‘laos,’ in Greek] in pow­er,” the party’s late founder Andreas Papan­dreou promised at the time. And here we are, 30 years lat­er, thanks to Andreas’s son, George Papan­dreou. Well, almost. You see, the new slo­gan is “PASOK in gov­ern­ment, LAOS in pow­er.”

    Don’t under­es­ti­mate the threat. Strange­ly, most media have pre­sent­ed the involve­ment of the ultra­na­tion­al­ist LAOS par­ty in the tran­si­tion admin­is­tra­tion not only as nat­ur­al and pain­less but also as con­struc­tive and pro­duc­tive.

    It almost feels like LAOS is a group of col­or­ful politi­cians with a soft spot for smart sound bites who spend most of their time parad­ing through Greece’s tele­vi­sion stu­dios — instead of what it real­ly is: a polit­i­cal par­ty that accom­mo­dates the worst kind of nation­al­ists, apol­o­gists of Greece’s mil­i­tary jun­ta (as well as late Greek dic­ta­tor Ioan­nis Metaxas), immi­grant bash­ers, anti-Semi­tes, for­mer mem­bers of the nation­al­ist Chrysi Avgi (Gold­en Dawn) orga­ni­za­tion, and big­ot­ed preach­ers of the notion that build­ing a mosque in Athens — with or with­out a minaret — would sig­nal an attack on the Hel­lenic nation.

    I think we’re in need of a new term for jour­nal­ists that kiss fas­cists ass because I’m not sure “syco­phant” cap­tures it. This could work.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | November 17, 2011, 10:49 pm
  4. When Democ­ra­cy fails try, try again:

    LAOS par­ty leader, Gior­gos Karatze­feris (whose pop­u­lar nick­name among Greeks is KaratzaFührer) once said in an inter­view to Eth­nos news­pa­per (26/10/10) in an attempt to jus­ti­fy why Voridis wasn’t the party’s can­di­date for the Athens region­al gov­er­nor in the 2010 local elec­tions:

    Gioro­gos Karatzaferis: I was sim­ply afraid that Voridis has a his­to­ry which I have man­aged to cov­er after con­sid­er­able effort…
    Chris­tos Machairas (jour­nal­ist): What exact­ly do you mean by “his­to­ry”?
    Gior­gos Karatzaferis: About his rela­tion with Jean Marie Le Pen, the axes and all the rest. I am just think­ing that sud­den­ly, on the 30th of Octo­ber (i.e. a bit before the local elec­tions) some guy from New Democ­ra­cy or from Tsipras’ team (i.e. SYRIZA left­ist par­ty) can throw a video on the air and drag me explain­ing about all these things.

    Makis Voridis is now the new Min­is­ter of Infra­struc­ture, Trans­port and Net­works.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | November 17, 2011, 11:03 pm
  5. It is so sad what is hap­pen­ing to Greece. And it is even more sad for Israel, as it is now com­plete­ly sur­round­ed by anti-semi­tes with all those regime changes in the region.

    For those who would like to watch a good doc­u­men­tary on Oper­a­tion Glad­io which Dave ref­ered to, here is a post by Pub­li­cRecord web­site. The inter­views are great as they fea­ture peo­ple who are in a posi­tion to talk about it from the inside. Don’t miss it. Orig­i­nal Ital­ian with Eng­lish sub­ti­tles.


    Posted by Claude | November 17, 2011, 11:29 pm
  6. Here’s a Krug­man piece on the US’s psy­cho­phants. It’s just one the par­al­lels between the US “Super Com­mit­tee” and the new Greek gov­ern­ment:

    So the super­com­mit­tee brought togeth­er leg­is­la­tors who dis­agree com­plete­ly both about how the world works and about the prop­er role of gov­ern­ment. Why did any­one think this would work?

    Well, maybe the idea was that the par­ties would com­pro­mise out of fear that there would be a polit­i­cal price for seem­ing intran­si­gent. But this could only hap­pen if the news media were will­ing to point out who is real­ly refus­ing to com­pro­mise. And they aren’t. If and when the super­com­mit­tee fails, vir­tu­al­ly all news reports will be he-said, she-said, quot­ing Democ­rats who blame Repub­li­cans and vice ver­sa with­out ever explain­ing the truth.

    Oh, and let me give a spe­cial shout-out to “cen­trist” pun­dits who won’t admit that Pres­i­dent Oba­ma has already giv­en them what they want. The dia­logue seems to go like this. Pun­dit: “Why won’t the pres­i­dent come out for a mix of spend­ing cuts and tax hikes?” Mr. Oba­ma: “I sup­port a mix of spend­ing cuts and tax hikes.” Pun­dit: “Why won’t the pres­i­dent come out for a mix of spend­ing cuts and tax hikes?”

    You see, admit­ting that one side is will­ing to make con­ces­sions, while the oth­er isn’t, would tar­nish one’s cen­trist cre­den­tials. And the result is that the G.O.P. pays no price for refus­ing to give an inch.


    Well, I don’t know if the GOP is refus­ing to give an inch here and there:

    At the very end of the debt lim­it fight, Repub­li­cans crowed that the Super Committee’s inher­ent design would make it dif­fi­cult for the panel’s Democ­rats to insist on tax increas­es. Because of how the Con­gres­sion­al Bud­get Office typ­i­cal­ly scores leg­is­la­tion, they argued, any attempt to raise mar­gin­al tax rates from their cur­rent Bush-era lev­els would actu­al­ly score as a big tax cut and thus a bud­get buster — a fact that would make it dif­fi­cult for the Com­mit­tee to hit its $1.2 tril­lion tar­get.

    The CBO defaults to what’s known as a “cur­rent law base­line.” It weighs how pro­posed leg­is­la­tion would impact the bud­get com­pared to what would hap­pen if Con­gress does noth­ing. Well, if Con­gress does noth­ing, all the Bush tax cuts will expire auto­mat­i­cal­ly at the end of 2012, large­ly elim­i­nat­ing the country’s medi­um-term deficits. As a result, Democ­rats on the Super Com­mit­tee have been unable (and per­haps unwill­ing) to insist that the Bush tax cuts for top earn­ers expire — if the rest of those tax cuts become per­ma­nent, it scores as a huge tax cut.

    For that very rea­son Repub­li­cans insist­ed to reporters that they’d hold the Super Com­mit­tee to the cur­rent law base­line. I know. I was one of those reporters.

    Fast for­ward three and a half months, Repub­li­cans now want to use the Super Com­mit­tee report as a vehi­cle for mak­ing all the Bush tax cuts per­ma­nent. But com­pared to cur­rent law, that scores as an even big­ger tax cut — it drops tril­lions of dol­lars in pro­ject­ed rev­enue off a cliff.

    So to make the math work out, they want to revert to what’s known as a “cur­rent pol­i­cy base­line.” Since the Bush tax cuts are in effect right now (i.e. they’re “cur­rent pol­i­cy”), extend­ing them for­ev­er is bud­get neu­tral com­pared to that base­line. The only dif­fer­ence, as far as deficits are con­cerned, is about $4 tril­lion over the next decade. But what’s $4 tril­lion between friends?

    $4 tril­lion in extra cuts? This sounds like a job for “The Ham­mer!”. Oh wait, he’s busy.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | November 17, 2011, 11:44 pm
  7. Caveat: i don’t agree with all the opin­ions in this edi­to­r­i­al, but it’s note­wor­thy to see the obvi­ous being stat­ed regard­ing the ascen­dant far right here, despite some “iffy” con­clu­sions.


    The extreme right ben­e­fits most from euro-zone fail­ure
    Dani Rodrik

    Nov 16, 2011

    As if the eco­nom­ic ram­i­fi­ca­tions of a full-blown Greek default were not ter­ri­fy­ing enough, the polit­i­cal con­se­quences could be far worse.

    A chaot­ic euro-zone break-up would cause irrepara­ble dam­age to the Euro­pean inte­gra­tion project, the cen­tral pil­lar of Europe’s polit­i­cal sta­bil­i­ty since the Sec­ond World War. It would desta­bilise not only the high­ly indebt­ed Euro­pean periph­ery, but also core coun­tries such as France and Ger­many, the archi­tects of that project.

    The night­mare sce­nario would also be a 1930s-style vic­to­ry for polit­i­cal extrem­ism. Fas­cism, Nazism and com­mu­nism were chil­dren of a back­lash against glob­al­i­sa­tion that had been build­ing since the end of the 19th cen­tu­ry, feed­ing on the anx­i­eties of groups that felt dis­en­fran­chised and threat­ened by expand­ing mar­ket forces and cos­mopoli­tan elites.

    Free trade and the gold stan­dard had required down­play­ing domes­tic pri­or­i­ties such as social reform, nation build­ing and cul­tur­al reasser­tion. Eco­nom­ic cri­sis and the fail­ure of inter­na­tion­al coop­er­a­tion under­mined not only glob­al­i­sa­tion, but also the elites who upheld the exist­ing order.

    As my Har­vard col­league Jeff Frieden has writ­ten, this paved the path for two dis­tinct forms of extrem­ism. Faced with the choice between equi­ty and eco­nom­ic inte­gra­tion, com­mu­nists chose rad­i­cal social reform and eco­nom­ic self-suf­fi­cien­cy. Faced with the choice between nation­al asser­tion and glob­al­ism, fas­cists, Nazis and nation­al­ists chose nation build­ing.

    ( ... )

    The result is that mount­ing con­cerns about the ero­sion of eco­nom­ic secu­ri­ty, social sta­bil­i­ty and cul­tur­al iden­ti­ty could not be han­dled through main­stream polit­i­cal chan­nels. Nation­al polit­i­cal struc­tures became too con­strained to offer effec­tive reme­dies, while Euro­pean insti­tu­tions still remain too weak to com­mand alle­giance.

    It is the extreme right that has ben­e­fit­ed most from the cen­trists’ fail­ure. In Fin­land, the hereto­fore unknown True Finns par­ty cap­i­talised on the resent­ment around euro-zone bailouts to fin­ish a close third in April’s gen­er­al elec­tion. In the Nether­lands, Geert Wilder­s’s Par­ty for Free­dom wields enough pow­er to play king­mak­er; with­out its sup­port, the minor­i­ty lib­er­al gov­ern­ment would col­lapse. In France, the Nation­al Front, which fin­ished sec­ond in the 2002 pres­i­den­tial elec­tion, has been revi­talised under Marine Le Pen.

    Nor is the back­lash con­fined to euro-zone mem­bers. The Swe­den Democ­rats, a par­ty with neo-Nazi roots, entered par­lia­ment last year with near­ly 6 per cent of the pop­u­lar vote. In Britain, one recent poll indi­cat­ed that as many as two thirds of Con­ser­v­a­tives want Britain to leave the EU.

    Polit­i­cal move­ments of the extreme right have tra­di­tion­al­ly fed on anti-immi­gra­tion sen­ti­ment. But the Greek, Irish, Por­tuguese and oth­er bailouts, togeth­er with the euro’s trou­bles, have giv­en them fresh ammu­ni­tion. Their Euro-scep­ti­cism cer­tain­ly appears to be vin­di­cat­ed by events. When Ms Le Pen was recent­ly asked whether she would with­draw from the euro, she replied: “When I am pres­i­dent, in a few months’ time, the euro zone prob­a­bly won’t exist.”

    Eco­nom­i­cal­ly, the best of the bad options is to ensure that the inevitable defaults and depar­tures from the euro zone are car­ried out in as order­ly and coor­di­nat­ed a fash­ion as pos­si­ble. Polit­i­cal­ly, too, a sim­i­lar real­i­ty check is need­ed. What the cur­rent cri­sis demands is an explic­it reori­en­ta­tion away from exter­nal finan­cial oblig­a­tions and aus­ter­i­ty to domes­tic pre­oc­cu­pa­tions and aspi­ra­tions. Just as healthy domes­tic economies are the best guar­an­tor of an open world econ­o­my, healthy domes­tic poli­ties are the best guar­an­tor of a sta­ble inter­na­tion­al order.

    The chal­lenge is to devel­op a new polit­i­cal nar­ra­tive empha­sis­ing nation­al inter­ests and val­ues with­out over­tones of nativism and xeno­pho­bia. If cen­trist elites do not prove them­selves up to the task, those of the far right will glad­ly fill the vac­u­um, minus the mod­er­a­tion.

    That is why George Papan­dreou, who has just stepped down as Greek prime min­is­ter, had the right idea with his abortive call for a ref­er­en­dum. That move was a belat­ed attempt to recog­nise the pri­ma­cy of domes­tic pol­i­tics, even if investors viewed it, in the words of a Finan­cial Times edi­tor, as “play­ing with fire”. Scrap­ping the ref­er­en­dum sim­ply post­pones the day of reck­on­ing and rais­es the ulti­mate costs to be paid by Greece’s new lead­er­ship.

    Today, the ques­tion is no longer whether pol­i­tics will become more pop­ulist and less inter­na­tion­al­ist but whether the con­se­quences of that shift can be man­aged with­out things turn­ing ugly. In Europe’s pol­i­tics, as in its eco­nom­ics, there are no good options — only less bad ones.

    Dani Rodrik, a pro­fes­sor of inter­na­tion­al polit­i­cal econ­o­my at Har­vard Uni­ver­si­ty, is the author of The Glob­al­iza­tion Para­dox: Democ­ra­cy and the Future of the World Econ­o­my.

    Posted by R. Wilson | November 19, 2011, 1:24 am
  8. I wish I could bring a ham­mer down on this Makis son of a bitch.

    Posted by Josh | November 19, 2011, 1:49 pm
  9. @R. Wil­son: Yeah, it looks like we’re already see­ing the right-wing make the pre­dictable elec­toral gains.

    The sad les­son of the day seems to be “When it rains pain, stu­pid­i­ty gains”:

    The peo­ple of the Peo­ple’s Par­ty
    The like­ly next Span­ish prime min­is­ter is a man of some mys­tery

    Jun 16th 2011 | MADRID

    SPAIN will soon be a coun­try for old men. Most new prime min­is­ters are in their ear­ly 40s. But the next one will be a grey-beard­ed vet­er­an. The choice will be between Alfre­do Pérez Rubal­ca­ba, the Social­ist deputy prime min­is­ter, who must lead his par­ty into a tough gen­er­al elec­tion due by next March, and Mar­i­ano Rajoy of the con­ser­v­a­tive People’s Par­ty (PP). ...


    Mr Rajoy has played watch and wait, being care­ful not to fright­en vot­ers with dra­mat­ic, dras­tic pro­pos­als. He has shed the “nasty par­ty” bag­gage that dam­aged the PP in 2008. He has aban­doned overblown claims that Mr Zap­a­tero is tear­ing Spain apart by giv­ing more auton­o­my to its regions or destroy­ing the fam­i­ly. PP hints that the region of Castil­la-La Man­cha is bust or that Spain’s health sys­tem will not sur­vive the year also look alarmist. Mr Rajoy also rarely men­tions ter­ror­ism prac­tised by the Basque sep­a­ratist group ETA. Yet many in the par­ty, espe­cial­ly on the right, wish he were more forth­right and dynam­ic. Oth­ers offer the faint praise that he will be a bet­ter prime min­is­ter than oppo­si­tion leader. Some blame Britain’s David Cameron, a fel­low con­ser­v­a­tive: Mr Cameron scared vot­ers by being too open about aus­ter­i­ty, they say, and failed to win an absolute major­i­ty.

    All this leads to frus­tra­tion about the PP’s plans. “I don’t think any­one real­ly knows what he will do beyond bal­anc­ing the bud­get, and that doesn’t help calm mar­kets,” says Jesús Fer­nán­dez-Villaverde, an econ­o­mist at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Penn­syl­va­nia. “The degree of courage will depend on the size of the par­lia­men­tary major­i­ty,” says Loren­zo Bernal­do de Quirós, of Freemar­ket Inter­na­tion­al Con­sult­ing. That the PP now runs many regions may not help, as some vot­ers may start to see it as an incum­bent rather than an oppo­si­tion.

    Mr Rajoy is famed for a trait of his native Gali­cia: leav­ing peo­ple guess­ing about his real inten­tions. But he is also tena­cious. Plots to dethrone him as leader have come to noth­ing. In a par­ty that cov­ers the spec­trum of the Span­ish right, some­body will always gripe. He and his eco­nom­ic team deny they are hid­ing their plans, point­ing to numer­ous par­lia­men­tary motions.

    A Rajoy gov­ern­ment will try to repeat the trick of the first PP gov­ern­ment of José María Aznar after 1996. It met its deficit tar­gets, cut tax­es and enjoyed strong growth. Mr Rajoy will quick­ly pass an aus­ter­i­ty pack­age and cut cor­po­rate tax. He will push through more labour reform, with or with­out union con­sent. And he will hack at busi­ness-suf­fo­cat­ing red tape. But this is not 1996. Spain has few­er pub­lic com­pa­nies to pri­va­tise and can­not count so much on Euro­pean Union mon­ey. How the Aznar mod­el can apply now will depend large­ly on Mr Rajoy’s first finance min­is­ter. And who will that be? Like so much sur­round­ing Mr Rajoy, it remains a mys­tery.

    This les­son in pain-induced stu­pid­i­ty brought to you today from Spain:

    Spain elec­tion: Peo­ple’s par­ty sweeps to crush­ing vic­to­ry over Social­ists

    Mar­i­ano Rajoy gains absolute major­i­ty with 16 per­cent­age point win over José Luis Rodríguez Zap­a­tero’s Social­ists
    Giles Trem­lett in Madrid
    guardian.co.uk, Sun­day 20 Novem­ber 2011 18.40 EST

    The con­ser­v­a­tive Peo­ple’s par­ty (PP) of Mar­i­ano Rajoy has swept to a land­slide vic­to­ry in Spain’s gen­er­al elec­tion, inher­it­ing sky-high unem­ploy­ment and one of the shaki­est economies in Europe.

    Rajoy’s PP gained an absolute par­lia­men­tary major­i­ty with a crush­ing 16 per­cent­age point win over the Social­ists of out­go­ing prime min­is­ter José Luis Rodríguez Zap­a­tero.

    The Social­ists lost a third of their seats as vot­ers dumped a gov­ern­ment that presided over a dra­mat­ic eco­nom­ic slump which has left 23% of Spaniards out of work.

    With the PP win­ning 186 of the 350 seats in par­lia­ment, 56-year-old Rajoy was giv­en a free hand to car­ry out sweep­ing reforms and impose fur­ther aus­ter­i­ty in an attempt to turn the coun­try around.

    “It is no secret to any­one that we are going to rule in the most del­i­cate cir­cum­stances Spain has faced in 30 years,” he said. He plead­ed for time. “There will be no mir­a­cles,” he said. “We haven’t promised any.”


    They can expect an imme­di­ate dose of added aus­ter­i­ty, with experts say­ing Rajoy must find at least €18bn (£15.4bn) through cuts or tax ris­es next year. “This could calm the mar­kets, but until the new gov­ern­ment does what it says it’s going to do, noth­ing will change,” said Angel Labor­da, chief econ­o­mist at the Span­ish sav­ings banks’ think­tank, Fun­cas.


    Zap­a­tero has also extend­ed the retire­ment age and changed the con­sti­tu­tion to allow for a long-term deficit lim­it to be set on the bud­get. Rajoy has said one of his first mea­sures will be to set that lim­it.

    Rajoy’s promis­es of major reforms, more aus­ter­i­ty and strict deficit con­trol are in tune with mar­ket demands and with those of Ger­many’s Angela Merkel, the Euro­pean Cen­tral Bank and the Euro­pean com­mis­sion.


    Zap­a­tero has also extend­ed the retire­ment age and changed the con­sti­tu­tion to allow for a long-term deficit lim­it to be set on the bud­get. Rajoy has said one of his first mea­sures will be to set that lim­it.

    Wait, so part of their new reforms will involve set­ting con­sti­tu­tion­al bud­get lim­its. Yeah, I’m sure that will turn out well.



    PP shad­ow finance min­is­ter Cristóbal Mon­toro has said the new gov­ern­ment will act hard and fast, intro­duc­ing reforms imme­di­ate­ly. Rajoy must now name his future finance min­is­ter. He has said in the past that he is hap­py to choose some­one from out­side the par­ty, so may end up nam­ing a mar­ket-friend­ly tech­no­crat.

    Fur­ther spend­ing cuts on top of those already imposed by Zap­a­tero risk tip­ping the coun­try into reces­sion. They may also be ener­get­i­cal­ly opposed by the peace­ful “indig­na­do” move­ment that took over city squares ear­li­er this year.

    “From a mar­ket stand­point, an absolute major­i­ty for the PP is just what the doc­tor ordered,” Nicholas Spiro, of Sov­er­eign Strat­e­gy told Reuters in Lon­don. “The risk, how­ev­er, is that more retrench­ment push­es the econ­o­my back into reces­sion.


    So the “free-mar­ket” friend­ly approach is to appoint “tech­nocrats” to lead the aus­ter­i­ty mea­sures. Except the mar­ket is also con­cerned that their planned aus­ter­i­ty will under­mine the econ­o­my (which is what pret­ty much always hap­pens).

    I nev­er real­ize the term “free-mar­ket” includ­ed real­i­ty-free mar­kets. Buy­er beware.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | November 20, 2011, 8:00 pm
  10. Dear Mr. Thall;

    Per­haps this will help, at least as a start­ing point.

    Fol­low the links.


    Use the “search” func­tion.

    Posted by Dave Emory | November 20, 2011, 10:39 pm
  11. @Nelson: Hamas may not be any­where near a major pow­er, that is true, how­ev­er, though, they DO exhib­it some very fascis­tic char­ac­ter­is­tics, e.g. the scape­goat­ing of the Jew­ish peo­ple for all the world’s ills, etc. As seen here, Dave has kind­ly pro­vid­ed one of his MANY qual­i­ty pieces of research on these anti-Semit­ic pieces of garbage and their ilk.

    Posted by Steven L. | November 20, 2011, 11:27 pm
  12. Cap­i­tal­ism, in cri­sis, inevitable turns to Fas­cist enforcers to pound down resis­tance.

    Posted by stu | November 21, 2011, 1:48 pm
  13. Ahoy, Nel­son!
    As far as Hezbol­lah goes, try this for open­ers:

    What do you think these lit­tle charm­ers are doing?

    Audi­tion­ing for an anti-per­spi­rant com­mer­cial?

    After that, use the web­site and look up the “devo­tees of islam”,
    Shi­ia off­shoot of the Mus­lim Broth­er­hood that men­tored Khome­i­ni, et al.

    Also look up “fran­cois genoud” and his links to Islamist forces.

    I think one of the stum­bling blocks appears to be equat­ing sophis­ti­cat­ed weapon­ry with fas­cist real­iza­tion.

    This is fal­la­cious, in my opin­ion.

    A Nazi, Ital­ian black­shirt, Mus­lim Broth­er­hood street goon or any oth­er form of fas­cist is the same ide­o­log­i­cal­ly, regard­less of the qual­i­ty of his (or her) weapon­ry or fund­ing.

    Makis “The Ham­mer” did­n’t have much in the way of weapon­ry when he earned his nick­name, and look where he end­ed up.

    Indeed, fasism rep­re­sents itself to the dis­en­fran­chised as a path to redress of social griev­ance.

    In addi­tion to the con­cept of the
    Cor­po­rate State, as artic­u­lat­ed by Mus­soli­ni, one might think of fas­cism as “cap­i­tal­izm on full-auto.”

    I think a greater under­stand­ing of the Islamist com­po­nent of the post­war fas­cist inter­na­tion­al may derive from exam­i­na­tion of FTR #498/499.

    Posted by Dave Emory | November 21, 2011, 3:04 pm
  14. @Dave: So true. Why, here in the Unit­ed States, we have our own brand of fascists(and oth­er sus­pi­cious fig­ures) try­ing to appeal to the poor and disenfranchised....I believe one of them is called the ‘Tea Party’?(how iron­ic, right?) And let’s not for­get the nut­ty Ron Paul, the Huey Long of the 21st cen­tu­ry. =)

    (The good thing here, though, is that many peo­ple here in Amer­i­ca have begun to wake up to the com­ings and goings of the Teabag­gers & their boss­es + bene­fac­tors, par­tic­u­lar­ly the shady-as-all-hell Koch Bros. Let’s hope the peo­ple of Greece can do the same.)

    Posted by Steven l. | November 21, 2011, 3:38 pm
  15. I think “Mr. Thall” is try­ing to troll Dave.

    (1) I don’t believe that Mr. Thall works for the CIA — such a per­son would­n’t drop that fact into the con­ver­sa­tion. Think about it. Think about why that fact was dropped into the con­ver­sa­tion, and what would jus­ti­fy it.

    (2) Clas­sic troll tech­niques include wild mis­di­rec­tion about Hamas — which is not the top­ic Mr. Thall came here to dis­cuss. The top­ic that Mr. Thall came here to dis­sem­i­nate dis­in­for­ma­tion about is that old Neo­con favorite, Iran.

    (3) Would an alleged CIA employ­ee assert such a brazen­ly “con­fused” def­i­n­i­tion of what con­sti­tutes fas­cism? On so many lev­els?

    (4) Would some­one who “val­ues Dav­e’s opin­ion” not already know the links that Dave felt oblig­ed to post, or already know the basic back­ground facts that are a sta­ple for For The Record lis­ten­ers? I smell a fake, and a care­less Rov­ian one at that.

    Nice touch with “The Marx­ists” ... so Neo­con.

    You know your radio efforts are hit­ting sig­nif­i­cant chords when you start get­ting trolls with such sophis­ti­cat­ed creepi­ness that they smell like Michael Ledeen.

    Posted by R. Wilson | November 21, 2011, 8:16 pm
  16. @R. Wil­son: Per­haps so. How­ev­er, though, I must admit Mr. Thall cred­it for hav­ing been cor­rect on one thing: The gov­ern­ment in Tehran, is indeed fas­cist. Too bad pret­ty much every­thing else he said was bull­shit, though.

    And yes, I agree: Dave is REALLY kick­ing ass these days. =)

    Posted by Steven l. | November 21, 2011, 9:53 pm
  17. That con­ver­sa­tion is extreme­ly inter­est­ing. Coin­ci­den­tal­ly (or not?), it hap­pens that I am a pre­vi­ous lis­ten­er of Mr Thall radio show, “Shock Talk With Bloom and Steele”. In the begin­ning I liked it but, lit­tle by lit­tle, I began to feel unsat­is­fied by it. The same thing hap­pened when I was lis­ten­ing to Alex Jones. No offense Nel­son, if that’s real­ly you. Then I dis­cov­ered Dav­e’s show, iron­i­cal­ly sug­gest­ed by you, “Lenny Bloom”, AKA Nel­son Thall on your show...and then I real­ized what it was to inform the pub­lic with FACTS, detailed, pre­cise, with doc­u­men­ta­tion, analy­sis, all things Bloom and Steele can’t do, even if you do your best to put the best show you can. In the end, tal­ent, work and com­pe­tence make the dif­fer­ence and that’s why Dave belongs in a cat­e­go­ry of him­self. There are sev­er­al pro­gres­sive radio hosts but there is only one Dave Emory.

    Even if I liked your show, Nel­son, I always though there was some­thing wrong but I could­n’t iden­ti­fy what. I agree with R. Wil­son that an intel­li­gence agent would­n’t blow his own cov­er. It’s one of the basics. It’s like a base­ball play­er who would for­get to bring his bat at the plate. On the oth­er hand, you defin­te­ly do “some­thing” oth­er than just a radio show. I don’t know what it is but there is some­thing.

    On the ques­tion of islam, you know that Dave is right but you can’t admit it. If you are relat­ed to the own­er of the Toron­to Star, then you belong to the Left. As the Left can’t accept that Islam may cause prob­lems and encour­age peo­ple to behave like crim­i­nals, it tries to por­tray Hamas and Hezbol­lah like kinder­gar­den mom­mies. And we all know that they are not.

    Any­way, I could con­tin­ue but there is no point. It is the qual­i­ty of the mate­r­i­al that you put out that will give cred­i­bil­i­ty to you, not the oth­er way around. I don’t ref­er­ence your show on my blog very often and it will stay like that until you begin being more seri­ous.

    Think about it and stop “trolling” Dave with that ridicu­lous fish­ing expe­di­tion. We are all very busy with our lives and research. You should read the Nation­al Post. Maybe it would open your hori­zons.

    Posted by Claude | November 22, 2011, 12:53 am
  18. Sheesh, the Span­ish right-wing just had a his­toric day at the bal­lot box and Spain is still get­ting killed in the bond mar­kets because Spain’s new Prime Min­is­ter did­n’t imme­di­ate­ly give the details on just how exact­ly he’s going to impose aus­ter­i­ty:

    No respite for Spain on mar­kets despite elec­tion result

    By Paul Day and Sonya Dowsett

    MADRID | Tue Nov 22, 2011 8:55am EST

    (Reuters) — The elec­tion of a new con­ser­v­a­tive gov­ern­ment failed to curb mount­ing mar­ket pres­sure on Spain on Tues­day with Madrid forced to pay the high­est inter­est in 14 years on a sale of gov­ern­ment debt.

    The auc­tion of short term paper was seen as the first test of whether Prime Min­is­ter-elect Mar­i­ano Rajoy could reas­sure investors after his cen­ter-right Peo­ple’s Par­ty (PP) won the biggest vic­to­ry for 30 years in Sun­day’s elec­tion. The answer was a resound­ing “no.”

    The aver­age yield on a three-month bill more than dou­bled to just over 5 per­cent from almost 2.3 per­cent a month ear­li­er. The inter­est paid on a 6‑month bill also soared to over 5 per­cent from over 3.3 per­cent paid in Octo­ber.

    With Spain at the heart of a euro zone cri­sis that is esca­lat­ing by the day, the final aver­age yields on both bills leapt more than 70 basis points even from sec­ondary mar­ket lev­els on Mon­day after­noon.

    The dis­mal per­for­mance in the auc­tion piled pres­sure on Rajoy, who does not take pow­er until just before Christ­mas, to give some detail on his aus­ter­i­ty plans — some­thing he refused to do on Mon­day night to the frus­tra­tion of mar­kets.

    “Rajoy has to hur­ry with the mea­sures. The mar­ket will not give him much time,” said a senior Span­ish banker, who asked not to be named.

    Fitch rat­ings agency said the incom­ing gov­ern­ment must out­line addi­tion­al mea­sures to cut Spain’s deficit.

    “It must pos­i­tive­ly sur­prise investors with an ambi­tious and rad­i­cal fis­cal and struc­tur­al reform pro­gram,” it said in a state­ment.

    Jo Tomkins, a strate­gist at con­sul­tan­cy 4Cast, said bor­row­ing costs were at “eye-pop­ping lev­els.”

    The lack of relief on the back of Sun­day’s elec­tion speaks vol­umes despite what was a very sol­id major­i­ty win for Rajoy. No doubt about it he will have his work cut out, but a bold if not brazen mes­sage could be what is need­ed to shore up con­fi­dence in Spain,” she said.

    Rajoy says he will hold his first cab­i­net meet­ing on Decem­ber 23, and has resist­ed pres­sure to at least give some crumbs to ner­vous investors on pre­cise­ly what he intends to do to cut the deficit and restore mar­ket con­fi­dence.

    The PP’s man­i­festo was short on detail, as Rajoy sat back and relied on anger over a grind­ing cri­sis that has put one in five Spaniards out of work — the high­est rate in the Euro­pean Union — to rock­et him to over­whelm­ing vic­to­ry.

    As Krug­man has been say­ing, to some extent what we’re see­ing is neo-Calvin­ism become the only viable solu­tion as the cri­sis takes the form of a larg­er moral­i­ty play. Then again, with folks like “The Ham­mer” in the pic­ture and the mar­kets threat­en­ing nation­al death if lead­ers don’t promise more blood, this is start­ing to look like anoth­er type of sto­ry.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | November 22, 2011, 9:22 am
  19. Yes indeed, well said Dave. This becomes espe­cial­ly acute in a polit­i­cal envi­ron­ment lack­ing a cred­i­ble pro­gres­sive alter­na­tive.

    In pre-WWII Ger­many the rise of Hitler was aid­ed and abet­ted by the inabil­i­ty of social­ist and pro­gres­sive forces to estab­lish a viable alter­na­tive. Stal­in and his agents worked to con­scious­ly sup­press such a “unit­ed front” with dis­as­trous con­se­quences for Ger­many and the world.


    Indeed, fas­cism rep­re­sents itself to the dis­en­fran­chised as a path to redress of social griev­ance.

    In addi­tion to the con­cept of the
    Cor­po­rate State, as artic­u­lated by Mus­solini, one might think of fas­cism as “cap­i­tal­izm on full-auto.”

    Posted by stu | November 22, 2011, 10:52 am
  20. @Claude: Just remem­ber that not all of us left­ies are naive.......check out Demo­c­ra­t­ic Under­ground some time. =)

    Posted by Steven l. | November 22, 2011, 11:32 am
  21. @Stu: Nice­ly put, Stu. =)

    Posted by Steven l. | November 23, 2011, 10:55 am
  22. The Greek con­nec­tion to UC Davis “Chem­i­cal” Lin­da Kate­hi

    Its inter­est­ing how she left Greece after democ­ra­cy was restored. Good tim­ing?

    Posted by grumpusrex | November 29, 2011, 9:34 am
  23. @GrumpusRex: I’ll have to look this up.......

    Posted by Steven l. | November 29, 2011, 12:08 pm
  24. Prob­a­bly noth­ing, but she seems to have more than sur­vived the Uni­ver­si­ty of Illi­nois clout scan­dal, mov­ing up and on to her new posi­tion at US Davis.

    Before com­ing to UC Davis, Kate­hi served as provost and vice chan­cel­lor for aca­d­e­m­ic affairs at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Illi­nois at Urbana-Cham­paign. She over­saw the admis­sions office dur­ing much of the time peri­od that came to be inves­ti­gat­ed as part of the Uni­ver­si­ty of Illi­nois clout scan­dal. Kate­hi denied involve­ment, say­ing the “Cat­e­go­ry I” deci­sions were made at high­er admin­is­tra­tive levels.[9]
    Her imme­di­ate ‘boss’ was Chan­cel­lor Richard Her­man.
    Pres­i­dent Bush appoint­ed Dr. Her­man to the President’s Coun­cil of Advi­sors on Sci­ence and Tech­nol­o­gy, serv­ing on sub­com­mit­tees which advised the Pres­i­dent on nan­otech­nol­o­gy, net­work­ing and infor­ma­tion tech­nol­o­gy and uni­ver­si­ty-pri­vate sec­tor part­ner­ships. He co-chaired the High Per­for­mance Com­put­ing Ini­ti­tia­tive for the Coun­cil on Com­pet­i­tive­ness as well as serv­ing on the steer­ing com­mit­tee for its Ener­gy, Secu­ri­ty, Inno­va­tion and Sus­tain­abil­i­ty Ini­tia­tive and the Council’s Exec­u­tive Com­mitt­tee.
    He has some big oil con­tacts, too.
    In addi­tion to abet­ting an increase in the research pro­file of the uni­ver­si­ty, Her­man pro­mot­ed pri­vate sec­tor part­ner­ships by sup­port­ing the cre­ation of a Research Park and, in par­tic­u­lar, by help­ing to secure a $500 mil­lion grant from BP in part­ner­ship with Berke­ley [3][4][5]. Com­mit­ments to the cre­ation of the Insti­tute for Genom­ic Biol­o­gy and the gar­ner­ing of the Petas­cale Award with IBM from the Nation­al Sci­ence Foun­da­tion ensured con­tin­ued sci­en­tif­ic and tech­no­log­i­cal lead­er­ship for the uni­ver­si­ty [6]

    Posted by grumpusrex | November 29, 2011, 4:22 pm
  25. @StevenL: There is sup­posed to be links in that last post. (I haven’t quite fig­ured out all the for­mat­ting con­ven­tions here) Nev­er­the­less, all that info is from Wikipedia. Just first glance stuff.

    Posted by grumpusrex | November 29, 2011, 4:29 pm

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