“A Greek Politician Willing to Face the People”

27 Sep

An amazingly flattering article on Rena Dourou, MP of Syriza, from the Times:

DOUROU-superJumbo “People were amazed to see me. They had never met a politician. They were touching me, saying, ‘You are Rena Dourou?’” Credit Lynsey Addario for The New York Times (click: great pic and great Greek female face — not conventionally beautiful, but sexy in our sharp and edgy and smart and witty way.)

Not in a position to judge Syriza, Dourou’s slightly left of center party; people whose opinions I respect think the party’s leader, Alexis Tsipras (see Nicholas Gage’s assessment here and and my response here) is a not-to-be-taken-seriously posturer and brat; and the truth is he reminds me and others a little too much of a young Papandreou — and smells a little like too many Athens College graduates I know, though I don’t actually know where he went to high school.  But the portrait of Dourou is convincing enough.  Just the way she’s apparently dealt with the sexism of the Greek political establishment, at least, seems something to commend her for.

Money quotes:

Easy to mock as cheap and populist:

…for the time being, Ms. Dourou’s election as prefect, the rough equivalent of the governor of New York, represents the party’s biggest victory so far.

Petite and blond, Ms. Dourou ran an American-style campaign, going door to door, something most Greek politicians avoid out of fear of being assaulted by angry citizens. [My emphasis — only ’cause I thought it was really funny] On her office wall, she kept a map of the region with dozens of pins indicating where she had traveled. Few opinion polls correctly predicted her victory.

But she brought her handshakes and her motto — “if you feel you have the life you deserve, don’t do anything and vote for the same old people” — all over the city, even to areas considered bastions of the right-wing Golden Dawn party.

“I don’t know whether it got me any votes,” she said. “But people were amazed to see me. They had never met a politician. They were touching me, saying, ‘You are Rena Dourou?’ ”

And a perfect little detail with which you can paint the Greek political establishment’s level of professionalism, and Neo-Greek spoiled loser pettiness:

But for the time being, she remains an official with few allies in office and little experience. A few months after winning and before taking office, she sent a formal letter to her predecessor asking to be briefed on the “loose ends” and “current issues” in the region. In his response, he told her the information was on “corresponding websites.”

And this is the kind of stuff for which Syriza gets my ambivalent respect:

NONETHELESS, she has already made headlines for a public brawl with the central government over the future of thousands of municipal workers in her region. The central government wants to review their credentials and evaluate their performance. But Ms. Dourou sees this as a thinly veiled starting point for cutting workers and pleasing Greece’s creditors, and she is refusing to hand over their files.

Dealing with Neo-Greek male garden slugs:

STILL, politics in patriarchal Greece can be tough on women. Last year, the vice president of the government, Evangelos Venizelos, told a female member of Parliament that “she should be pregnant.”

As Ms. Dourou was campaigning for office, a former deputy prime minister from the socialist Pasok Party, Theodoros Pangalos, said in a radio interview that he could not stand seeing posters of Ms. Dourou’s “filthy face” all over Athens. He added that he would “like to see her campaign complete with a full-body picture of her with a bikini.”

Dunno…  We’ll have to see.

Comment: nikobakos@gmail.com

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