The Battle for Hegemony in the Midst of the Economic Crisis: Greek Elites, National Identity and Europe

Wednesday, July 12, 2017
Gilbert Scott Building - G466 (University of Glasgow)
Zinovia Lialiouti , Panteion University, Athens
Giorgos Bithymitris , Panteion University, Athens
This papers presents an analysis of the discourses formulated by Greek elites (politicians, academics and journalists) in the context of the economic crisis, and in particular during the period 2011-2015. The period of study is delineated by the formation of the Papadimos government-a three party collaboration government headed by a non-elected prime-minister- and the election year 2015. This period has been characterized by government instability, the continuous transformation process of the Greek party system and social tension in direct interaction with the implementation of the Greek austerity project. Moreover, the divisive formulations of national identity and of Europe were among the ideological consequences of the multi-aspect crisis. For the purposes of this paper we focus on these parts of the elites that opposed the anti-austerity bloc and framed themselves as “reformists” or “pro-European”. Our empirical material consists of the following: a) political discourse as recorded in various sources, b) media texts, namely opinion articles published in the elite press, c) interviews conducted with elite representatives. Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) is applied in order to analyze the interaction between the negotiation of national identity and political identities in the context of an ongoing battle for hegemony. The elite formulation was based on a divisive perception of the national body with a significant part of the blame, framed as guilt, attributed to the Greek people. The academic and political concept of populism served also as means of constructing a negative image of the national self.