(From our man in Athens) ... A city & democracy on stilts.

Athens is a city on stilts.

Walk anywhere around the centre of town and you'll find buildings propped up on concrete piles over cavernous underground spaces.

The reason? Whenever anyone puts a shovel in the ground to build something, an ancient site or lost temple is found.

Architects are then required to shuffle things around to ensure the archaeology can be protected, whilst also keeping the new building standing. The easiest way to do this it seems is to prop everything up on massive stilts, beneath which the exposed sites can be seen.

This technique is elegantly displayed at the new Acropolis Museum, around the Monastiraki metro station - and also in Greek democracy.

Last night's election result revealed just how many facets of representation the Greek public demands - from centrists, leftists, rightists and communists to neo-nazis.

Of course there is nothing wrong with this. Indeed, I like it. What is a representative democracy if not a means for the little guy to have his say as well the big guy? (Of course, the price is that we have to allow neo-nazis their say - but usually they do themselves no favours.)

This makes for a great & diverse legislature, but makes forming an executive a little more difficult.

In the next few days we'll see how the stilts of democracy here can be shuffled and rearranged to arrive at something that can support itself - and let light shine onto the exposed masses too.


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