In a show of enthusiasm that has confounded even the most jaded students of the democratic process, today Greeks turned out in droves to cast their votes in what has come to be referred to as the καλάθι (kaláthi, which translates as basket, referred to colloquially as the “big round ballot box”).
Psephologists are still trying to get to grips with the record turnout (45% abstention despite compulsory voting), and how to interpret it, in a debate that will no doubt play out over the coming months and years. Some suggest that this phenomenon can be explained with reference to the “garbage can model of organisational choice“. The seminal 1970s theory of decision making viewed organisational systems as “a collection of choices looking for problems, issues and feelings looking for decision situations in which they might be aired, solutions looking for issues to which they might be the answer, and decision makers looking for work”, an eerily prescient description of Greek political life in the twenty-first century. According to the model, problems, solutions, participants, and choice opportunities flow in and out of a “garbage can”, and which problems get attached to solutions is largely due to chance. The model appears to provide a good fit for the current situation but further study is required.
Others, examining the contents of the ballot box, have discovered intriguing graffiti, which they claim alludes to much more ancient precedents. Crumpled images of leading politicians with phallic objects scrawled on them suggest to some ancient fertility rituals or good luck charms, intended to signal approval to the bearer and ward off evil. However, students of Classical antiquity point to a parallel in the “ostraka“, pieces of broken pottery on which Athenian citizens etched the name of the person they wanted banished from the city (hence the modern word “ostracism”). They suggest that this practice provided a last minute physical solution to Facebook’s failure to deliver on schedule the virtual “dislike” button in time for the Greek elections. A third interpretation links the graffiti to other modern expressions of evolved politico-moral discourse such as those favoured by celebrity gossip pioneer Perez Hilton (nsfw).
A third group of theories points to the calendrical coincidence of the Greek elections with the final of Eurobasket 2015, an international tournament of sporting prowess in which teams compete to pass balls through a hoop, also known as a basket, or καλάθι. While the Greek national team failed to make the final four in the tournament, most Greek males in particular would claim a greater attachment to the outcome of the Lithuania vs. Spain match than the result of the elections.
As usual, we will continue to report developments in this ongoing debate on this blog.