Is a coup a possibility? A report by the Albert Einstein Institute identified the circumstances under which a coup becomes more likely. First, there is dissatisfaction with the performance of the government. In Greece, this has gone so far as striking and widespread rioting, which has been met by tear gas.
Next, there is no confidence in democratic procedures. George Papandreou’s replacement as Prime Minister of Greece, Lucas Papademos, had never previously held public office. While Papademos received support upon taking office, the urgency of the situation in Greece dictates that the honeymoon will be brief. Anti-austerity campaigners, headed by ever more vocal trade unionists and other leftists, condemned him, saying his appointment was the fruit of the “logic of banks and markets.”
The Albert Einstein Institute said that a coup is more likely if there is a lack of diversification. This is true of Greece, one fifth of whose GDP comes from tourism. A coup benefits from low participation in politics by the citizenry. The government of Greece has acknowledged that the level of political participation is low. For a coup to be successful, soldiers must be more loyal to their officers than to the government. Defense minister Panos Beglitis said that the military was like a “state within a state” and accused its representatives of acting anti-democratically.
On the plus side, a coup is more likely to succeed if non-state institutions are weak, and Greek trades unions are very strong. The Greek Orthodox Church, however, was severely weakened by sex and corruption scandals in 2005. There were photographs of a 91 year-old bishop nekkid and abed with a young lady. One churchman, Archmandrite Iakovos Giosakis, was suspended after being charged with the smuggling of antiquities after valuable icons disappeared from his former diocese. Thanos Dokas, a political scientist, said, “What all of this has confirmed is that corruption is not limited to the public sector.” Homosexuality is rife among senior clerics sworn to chastity, despite the Church describing it as an “abomination.” Greek national identity is inextricably linked to the Church, as it kept Hellenism alive during 400 years of Ottoman rule. 97 percent of people in Greece are Orthodox.
A CIA report warning that the dire situation in Greece could result in a coup was first detailed by the German tabloid, Das Bild. People say the only things in this newspaper which are true are the cover price, the weather, and the sport results, however the report was mentioned by more respectable sources, such as the Turkish newspaper, Daily News & Economic Review, and the website, Business Insider.
In a shock announcement, Defense minister Beglitis, one of Papandreou’s closest allies, announced the dismissal of the chiefs of the Greek National Defense General Staff, army, air force, and navy. Military chiefs are usually replaced every couple of years on the basis of party loyalty, but changes rarely affect the entire military. The British newspaper of the ruling class, the Daily Telegraph, was one of many to speculate that the Papandreou regime replaced its top military leaders with more sympathetic people to prevent the possibility of a coup.