Tuesday, July 31, 2007

How colour clouds perception in Greece

If you want to be able to survive in Athens and Greece in general, you have to understand the role colour plays in everyday society. When i say colour i don't mean how Greeks treat Chinese or Africans. While Greeks attitude to foreigners can certainly be improved, i must admit that foreigners are not treated with the same amount of viciousness that one would see in Australia.

I am talking about the colour of political parties. You might have heard it being said if you live here, 'I don't have a colour' or 'Are you Green?' 'What should i expect from you, you're Blue!'.
Each colour corresponds to a political party, and be extension to a set of political views.
Blue represents the New Democracy Party (don't ask me what happened to the Old democracy)
Green represents the PanHellenic Socialist Movement (No they are not Green because they are environmentalists) .
Red represents the myriad Communist parties that exist such as main KKE (Hellenic Communist Party) as well as the M-L KK (Marxist-Leninist Communist Party, not to be confused with the L-M KK the Leninist Marxist Communist Party).

So for example, the rally to save the forests was 'colourless'. The farmers who came out protesting low subsidies was a Blue-Red protest.

These colours permeate throughout Greek society and espousing one colour or another is seen as a ticket to success. For example, despite efforts to introduce some sort of merit to the hiring process, when New Democracy came to power a few years ago there were media reports that the party faithful had taken to wearing blue ties when attending government job interviews thus declaring their allegiance and securing a job despite their lack of qualifications.
This has led to a pityable culture where party faithfullness is more important than merit. And with one third of the workforce employed by the government, many see the only way of getting a job is by entering this culture, despite their initial reticence and disgust at such a system.

And such a disgust does exist and i see and hear it when i talk to people, especially the young and idealistic people. Some get bitter at being turned back and rejected that they enter it and a few others embrace it from the beginning.

You can survive without any colour in Greece, but it is a difficult road. So if you are living here and are trying to survive without a colour, i commend your efforts for not taking the easy road. But if you have succumbed after a struggle, there is no shame because, employment does have its rewards.


Unknown said...

Hello m8! You've just found your colourless man!!! I despite ALL political colours!!!

Vassili - Mike said...

Hmm, I hear you, however thats all we got mate. There is no need to despise every party, how about joining one and changing the system from within!

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Vassili - Mike said...

You are forgetting military dark green, which thankfully we dont have. But it is a nice colourful spectrum

CaliforniaKat said...

Vassili, we were mentioned in Eleftheros Typos today

Kat, American in Athens


Vassili - Mike said...

Thanks for the heads up Kat!